Finally! The day we had all been waiting for…arrival day for the birds! After a sixty year absence, whooping cranes were about to return to Louisiana!
In the wee morning hours, Patuxent staff loaded the birds into wooden crates and then drove the birds to the Baltimore airport. The birds were loaded onto a plane and left Maryland early that morning. Terry Kohler and the Windway Capital Corporation of Wisconsin went above and beyond in donating their private plane and pilots to transport the birds from Maryland to Louisiana and we are extremely grateful for their support of this project.
The birds were flown to the Jennings, LA airport early that afternoon. A small group of individuals were there to meet the birds and carefully and quietly carry the crates off of the plane and load them into a cargo trailer for their ride to the White Lake boat launch. Once the birds arrived at White Lake, they were again carefully and quietly loaded onto a boat and taken out to the pen site. At the pen site each crate was carried off of the boat and brought to the staging area. One by one, each crate door was opened slowly and the bird was removed for a health inspection by our staff veterinarian to ensure none of the birds had sustained any injuries on the plane ride down. Once they passed their health check, each bird was carried out to the netted acclimation pen. What a sight to see 10 whooping cranes back in the marshes of Louisiana! In a contained netted pen, but regardless, back in the marshes of Louisiana! Welcome home cranes!!