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Joe Duff

On the first days of migration, why don't some of the birds want to leave? Their pen and the marsh are the place they know as home. they like having the big pond in their pen to forage and splash. In addition, pilot Joe Duff says:

"When the birds are young and beginning to fly, their endurance is minimal. Differences in age means differences in ability, and when we train them, we know that some will get tired and drop out before others... If we lose a bird in the tall grasses of White River Marsh, we could be hours getting it out — and that’s only if we know where it is. Some of the grass is so tall that a young colt might not be able to open its wings and power its way up and out, in order to return to the pen on its own. So the safest way to train the birds is to lead them flying in circles around the pen, venturing further out when we think they are capable of following. It’s a good practice for protecting birds, but it leads to bad habits and teaches them to turn back. That is an acceptable consequence because the only time that is really a problem is the first couple of legs of the migration."


"Swamp Monster" (a costumed handler covered in a noisy camouflage tarp) tries to scare two turned-back cranes into going after the ultralight plane again.


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