While wandering amid every kind of airplane imaginable at the Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington DC, I was confronted by this figure. I thought it might be one of the sand people from that movie we all saw, but instead it was a camouflage suit – meant to prevent birds from getting too used to people like us. On display along with the suit is one of the ultralight planes that Operation Migration uses in its work, training whooping cranes to migrate – an unusual idea, but a necessary one, since the birds were nearly extinct, and it seems there were too few birds left to keep the pattern going. In the 1980s a few intrepid Canadians discovered that birds could be imprinted to ultralight aircraft, and led down their migratory path. The story was good enough that eventually there was a film about it.

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