HOPE for the Whooping Crane Takes Flight!

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.

Please share this campaign with others!


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!


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