Operation Migration have had many hurdles, most of them being weather. They are progressing well but much slower than last year and certainly slower than they would have liked. Today is day 49 and they are only 350 miles South. The entire migration is 1285 miles so they still have a very long way to go. Today it was 26F at 4am in the morning but felt considerably colder with the wind chill. Surface winds were swinging back and forth between West and North and blowing strongly. As a result of the very strong winds they could not fly and it became the third day in row that they were grounded in Cumberland County.

Cumberland County in Southeastern Illinois is a relatively small county occupied by approximately 11,000 people. It was named for the Cumberland Road, aka the National Road, that passes through it. The county seat is Toledo, a tiny village of somewhat more than on thousand inhabitants living on only 0.8 square miles of land. There are only four communities in the county, plus part of two more that are mostly in adjoining counties. It’s a perfect spot for a remote Whooper stopover.

Unfortunately it has just been reported that bird 217 who was mate of bird 211 is dead. The pair have a child which is bird W601. W601 was the first whooping crane to be hatched in the wild in the US in more than a century. The threesome were dubbed the first family. In a report received yesterday it was advised that the mortality was discovered on Tuesday during a routine aerial flight.The male was spotted but bird 217 was not visible. Her transmitter signal was tracked to a location a few miles away where her carcass was found. It was noted that the recovery site was not the mortality site. The carcass has gone for necropsy to the National Wildlife Heath Center in Madison, WI.