FRANKLIN COUNTY – Nine Whooping cranes, among the most endangered animals in the world, have finally left their makeshift home of five weeks and have continued on their journey to Florida. The immature birds, on their first migration from Wisconsin where they were hatched, left their pen near the Russellville Airport shortly after dawn. Led by 3 pilots in ultralight aircraft, the Whoopers arrived at their next intermediate home without much fanfare. But it wasn’t as easy as it might have seemed. They didn’t make it all the way to their next scheduled stop just outside of Jasper, Alabama. Instead they only made it to a farm a few miles south before setting down. Some of the birds flew in to the farm, others weren’t so sure they liked the new surroundings, and traveled back to their old digs near the airport.
“We had to truck a few of them down to the farm to be with the ones who flew there on their own”, said Operation Migration founder, Joe Duff, “But they’re all together now and if the weather holds we will be back at it tomorrow.”