Whooping Cranes

Yes – this blog is supposed to be about Australian birds, I know.

This evening, however, our local ABC Television station showed a programme called “Flying Home” about Whooping Cranes. Scientists are trying to save this endangered species by showing them a new migration route from Wisconsin to Florida. They use various techniques to help the birds act as normally as possible. By training them to follow several ultra light planes to a wintering area in Florida they hope to eventually establish a range of Whooping Crane colonies in separate parts of the country, thus enhancing the survival chances of this species.

It was an interesting documentary with some good photography; what else would one expect from the BBC Natural History Unit? The programme also makes a case against the annual shooting of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, which are not endangered.

The narration, however, was rather appalling. Whoever wrote it deserves a few basic lessons, like being forced to view several hundred hours of David Attenborough’s work.

It is natural to make comparisons with the beautiful semi-fictional movie length “Fly Away Home” which features Canada Geese. While the techniques and photography in both are quite brilliant, that’s where the similarities end. The movie has a tension that makes it compelling viewing. This documentary was, at times, dull enough to induce yawns.

Related article:

UPDATE: these cranes have been in the news again – for the wrong reasons. Recent storms have killed some of the cranes. Read about it here.


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