First whooper is on the way to winter nesting grounds

The first whooper has left Canada, but there's no telling when the flock will arrive at their ancient winter home.

A whooping crane has been identified in North Dakota late last week, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services project leader Dan Alonso.

This last naturally migrating flock of whooping cranes has moved between Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge since the ice age.

The birds travel solo, in couples or in small groups.

The rest of the flock is reportedly still in Canada. While the birds traditionally arrive about Oct. 15, good conditions may cause them to make the trek at a more leisurely pace.

"As we saw last year, they take their time if food and weather is favorable along the migration path," Alonso said.