Learning to fly

hollywood has even made a film about it. Fly Away Home tells the story of a father-daughter team and their efforts to lead a flock of young geese to a new home and of their eventual success.

Reality, however, is a totally different ball game, far from the big screen's happy ending. In October 1997, Kent Clegg, a us biologist and ultralight pilot, narrowly escaped what might have been a fatal crash when a golden eagle zeroed in on the small flock of whooping and sandhill cranes that he was leading on a 1126.3-km flight from Idaho to New Mexico. "The birds are important, but are not worth losing a pilot over,' Clegg said later. Yet, he and many others like him are trying their best to establish new flocks so that the cranes' status can be upgraded from endangered to threatened by the year 2020.

The famed flock of some 180 whooping cranes