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Nation IN BRIEF / FLORIDA

Cranes Blaze Trail for Endangered Kin

November 12, 2000|From Times Wire Reports

A flock of sandhill cranes, following a light plane piloted by a man in a crane costume, finished a monthlong 1,250-mile flight to Florida in an experiment meant to blaze a trail for a gangly cousin--the endangered whooping crane. Eleven sand-colored teenage birds following a yellow-bellied ultralight swooped out of a cloudless sky from 1,400 feet and glided to a grassy landing in a vast Gulf Coast preserve to winter in the Sunshine State. The success of the 39-day mission ended an $850,000 odyssey from Wisconsin that made history as the longest man-led bird migration in history, according to scientists. The catalyst for the project was Operation Migration, started in 1994 by Canadian pilot Bill Lishman to teach abandoned and endangered birds safe migratory routes. The 1996 movie "Fly Away Home" was based on Lishman's experience.

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