Most of you know I love birds. And I love birding, because it’s one of the few activities left in our society that relies on the honor system. If a birder tells you he saw some obscure bird, he probably really did. They’re adorable!

Mom’s been hooked every morning for weeks (63 days to be exact), so I have no idea why it took me this long to bring it up – have you been to Operation Migration? Maybe I assumed everyone was already watching the Whooping Cranes as they fly to Florida from Wisconsin.

Anyway, I’m bringing it up now. They’re almost to their winter homes, so hurry and click here to find out what’s going on in the field, and click here to see the live crane cam. They’ve got cameras on their ultralight aircrafts (trikes), which are leading the birds (the young birds don’t yet know the migration route). The cameras let you fly with the birds! Awesome.

Photo from Operation Migration website. Not my own experience, but a gal can wish.

The Whooping crane population dwindled to 15 in the 1940s. It’s recovering thanks to the diligent efforts of many people in the U.S. and Canada.

One man in particular, George Archibald, (here’s his wikipedia page) has dedicated his adult life to protecting crane species around the world. He founded the International Crane Foundation in 1973, and it’s through his efforts that Operation Migration runs the way it does.

He’s a family friend, so when he came to Santa Fe for a discussion at the Audubon New Mexico a few years ago, Mom and I went.

He talked about his love for the birds, how cranes inspired airplanes. He explained the hardest part of his job. Many species of cranes have migratory routes that go through treacherous places, like Afghanistan, for example. (At the time, there were only two of those species left, and one of them had an injured leg.)

They seem like impossible numbers – two? Only two of that kind of crane left in the whole world?

But they’re not impossible.

George travels along the migratory routes, village by village, where people are poor and hungry. He tries to teach them to view the birds as sacred, not dinner.

Let’s hope word spreads fast.