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We need to raise funds to purchase 3 new aircraft, which will be used to teach endangered Whooping Cranes a migration path from WI to FL.
Operation Migration
Niagara Falls, New York
United States
1 Team Member

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Who We Are

Operation Migration (OM) was established as a non-profit in Canada (1994) and in the United States (1999). Our aircraft-guided method of teaching migratory birds a migration path was developed over a number of years with Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes. You may have seen our early work in the Columbia Pictures film Fly Away Home. 

In the 1940s the Whooping Crane came very close to extinction when only 15 individuals remained. Today the species numbers 600 - with 150 of these in captivity.

Whooping crane landing in marsh

In 1999 the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team asked OM to initiate a Whooping Crane reintroduction, using the aircraft-guided migration technique, to introduce a new migratory population of Whooping Cranes in eastern North America - specifically, a flock which would migrate between Wisconsin and Florida.

Working with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, the project began in 2001 and since, OM pilots have led more than 150 Whooping Cranes along this new migration corridor. Each spring a new generation of Whooping Cranes is hatched in captivity and imprinted to accept and follow OM aircraft.

OM staff wear costumes designed to mask the human form and use puppets resembling adult Cranes when working with the young crane chicks.

Costume interacts with Whooping crane chicks

In the fall, once they are able to fly for extended periods, they follow our tiny airplanes from WI to FL - a journey of more than 1200 miles, which can take up to three months to complete. The following spring the young cranes retrace the route they learned while following the aircraft, and return to Wisconsin unaided.

Whooping cranes fly with ultralight aircraft

What We Need & What You Get

To comply with current FAA regulations, the aircraft we fly must comply with the Special Light Sport Aircraft category. The planes we currently use do not fit within this designation so we must replace our three existing aircraft so that we can continue to introduce Whooping Cranes using the aircraft-guided technique.



Three Apache Sport II aircraft 61040.00
Design and fabrication of propeller guards 3300.00
Rebuild three existing engines 8250.00
FAA inspection and flight test 1800.00
Travel (2 people) to Washington to deliver existing wings and guards. Fit guards, test fly aircraft. Return to pick up completed aircraft spring 2014. 10310.00
Donations received via OM website and pledged grant  -19377.00



*Should we reach the point where the above budget is funded - any additional funds raised will be put toward our general operating expenses or where needed most.

Why Whooping Cranes?

Whooping Cranes once flew the skies over most of North America before habitat loss and unregulated hunting very nearly wiped out the species. Since 1967 there has been a concerted international effort involving Canada and the United States to safeguard the species.

Operation Migration and our partners have succeeded in returning a migratory population of these endangered cranes to an area they were wiped out from more than a century ago. This is something that has never before been accomplished. 

Whooping Crane chick with puppet

We're Not Yet Finished...

With your help we can continue to build the new population until it reaches a self-sustaining level.

Other Ways You Can Help

You can help by sharing this campaign with others! Help spread the word! Do you have friends that are into aviation? Family members that want to help safeguard this 5 foot tall icon of endangered species? Ask them to help share this campaign as well. Here's a quick link for easy sharing: http://igg.me/at/whoop

Visit us In The Field to read updates about our work!


Find This Campaign On
raised by 302 people in 2 months
103% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$65,323 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on July 26, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD

    For your support you will receive a huge thank you from the Whooping Cranes and our pilots!

    19 out of 5000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $25USD
    Crane Hug!

    A contribution at this level will earn you a virtual hug from a Whooping Crane - have you ever received a hug from a creature with an 8 foot wingspan?

    50 out of 2000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $50USD
    Certificate of Appreciation

    For your $50 donation we will send you a personalized certificate of thanks.

    13 out of 500 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $75USD
    Say Cheese!

    Contribute at this level and we will send you an 8x10" photograph, suitable for framing of Whooping Cranes following our aircraft.

    14 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $100USD
    Class Photo

    Support at this level and you will receive a photograph of the Whooping Cranes in the Class of 2013 in flight.

    36 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $200USD
    Take Flight!

    For your $200 donation we will send you an 8 x 10” photograph of Whooping Cranes following our aircraft and a personalized certificate of appreciation.

    4 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $300USD
    Chasing the Ghost Birds

    For your contribution at this level we will send you an 8 x 10” photograph of Whooping Cranes following our aircraft, a personalized certificate of appreciation, and a signed copy of 'Chasing the Ghost Birds' by Author David Sakrison.

    10 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $500USD
    Sponsor a Whooping Crane!

    Contribute at this level and you will receive a certificate of sponsorship, along with a photograph of ‘your’ Whooping Crane and information about his/her lineage.

    6 out of 15 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Fly with us!

    Support at this level will get your name on one of the new aircraft! We will also send you a photo of the aircraft that bears your name and a personalized certificate of appreciation. *Delivery of this perk will occur in 2014 when we receive the aircraft.

    24 out of 30 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
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