Southern Company continues support of Operation Migration's annual journey to conserve endangered whooping crane

Oct 08, 2013, 13:30 ET from Southern Company

ATLANTA, Oct. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Reflecting its longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship, Southern Company, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), is sponsoring Operation Migration through the Power of Flight conservation program.

(Logo: )

As the presenting sponsor, Southern Company supports Operation Migration's daily EarlyBird e-bulletin newsletter, which provides progress reports and other information about the migration each morning. To receive the free electronic newsletter, go to and sign up on the upper right side of the page. The website also includes a migration map, live crane cam and other information.

Southern Company's EarlyBird sponsorship supports the annual migration, now in its 12th year, that takes young cranes on a more than 1,200-mile journey from Wisconsin to Florida. The captive-hatched birds are led on the migratory route by ultralight aircraft guided by Operation Migration pilots who act as surrogate parents. The flight teaches the cranes the migration route for their own return the following spring.

This year's migration of eight cranes began on Oct. 2 and will conclude at St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge, south of Tallahassee, Fla. The duration of the migration is heavily influenced by weather.

"The whooping crane migration, led by ultralight planes, is a 'must-see' event each autumn that is helping an endangered species recover from the brink of extinction," said Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Chris Hobson. "Operation Migration is an important example of Southern Company's commitment to environmental stewardship and we are proud to be a part of it."

Since 2001, Operation Migration has played a lead role in the reintroduction of endangered whooping cranes into eastern North America. During the 1940s, because of hunting and habitat loss, only 15 birds existed, although the species was not declared endangered until 1971. Because of conservation efforts, nearly 500 whooping cranes survive today in wild populations and in captive breeding centers. Approximately half exist due to reintroduction efforts.

"The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Southern Company are key partners in this unprecedented effort to reintroduce whooping cranes into the eastern flyway," said Joe Duff, CEO and senior pilot for Operation Migration. "We are grateful for the support of both these organizations to help make this project a success."

Power of Flight, one of three signature Southern Company-NFWF environmental stewardship programs, has supported Operation Migration since 2008.

"With each successive year of Operation Migration, we celebrate the comeback of a remarkable species," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "Our partnership with Southern Company continues to support the recovery of the whooping crane, and we wish it continued success."

In addition to Power of Flight, which funds projects to conserve birds characteristic of the southern United States, Southern Company is also committed to restoring the South's longleaf pine ecosystem through the Longleaf Stewardship Fund and to community watershed conservation through the Five Star/Urban Waters Restoration program.

Through these programs, Southern Company and a diverse group of partners have achieved measurable results, helping to restore more than 1 million acres of longleaf pine and other critical habitat in the Southeast and introducing hundreds of thousands of people to conservation messages and education.

Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) sustains, restores and enhances the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.1 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at

With 4.4 million customers and nearly 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. A leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for energy innovation, excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company and its subsidiaries are leading the nation's nuclear renaissance through the construction of the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans and are demonstrating their commitment to energy innovation through the development of a state-of-the-art coal gasification plant. Southern Company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer and listed by DiversityInc as a top company for Blacks. The company received the 2012 Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its leadership in new nuclear development, was named Electric Light & Power magazine's Utility of the Year for 2012 and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at

SOURCE Southern Company