It looks like Whooping Cranes will have to find another way to fly. The U.S. federal government’s Operation Migration program, which has used ultralight aircraft to teach migration routes to the endangered cranes, has flown its last group of Whoopers from Wisconsin to Florida.

Over 15 years, the program sought to boost the cranes’ numbers and enable them to someday flourish without intervention. But this interaction with humans apparently interfered with adult birds’ ability to successfully mate and rear chicks.

Let’s hope that the eastern population of Whooping Cranes manages to find another way to rebound, and that their wild cousins who migrate from Texas to Canada and back also thrive.

(Image above by John Noll/U.S. Department of Agriculture/Wikimedia Commons)

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.