Operation Migration Lands at Fla. Wildlife Refuge

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ST. MARKS, Fla. (AP) -- Eight endangered whooping cranes have completed their journey to their winter home on Florida's Gulf Coast.

The birds were taught to migrate by humans flying ultralight aircraft. They left Wisconsin in October. On Sunday, they made the final leg of their 1,100-mile trip into St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

It's the 13th migration led by aircraft flown by an organization called Operation Migration. Each fall, the group leads a flock of young cranes south to teach them a migration route. The birds are on their own for the return trip north in the spring and subsequent migrations.

About 450 whooping cranes live in the wild. About 250 migrate between Texas and Canada; they're the only natural and self-sustaining flock. Another flock has been taught to migrate between Wisconsin and Florida.

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