Russian President Vladimir Putin Dressed Up Like a Bird and Tried to Lead a Flock of Migrating Cranes | Smart News | Smithsonian

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Russian President Vladimir Putin Dressed Up Like a Bird and Tried to Lead a Flock of Migrating Cranes

With white suit and glider, Putin sought to lead a flock of Siberian cranes

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Vladimir Putin with a young Siberian crane. The cranes’ brown coats turn white with time. Photo: Kremlin.ru

Yesterday in Russia, President Vladimir Putin put on a baggy white suit and climbed into a motorized hang glider in a bid to lead the migration of a flock of endangered Siberian white cranes. Raised in captivity, the birds do not know how to migrate south, says the Associated Press.

So Putin, dressed in his garb meant to “imitate an adult crane,” did three laps above the Yamal Peninsula, hoping to get the cranes used to the idea of following the glider. Birds don’t always cooperate with efforts like these. When a conservation group tried to lead a group of whopping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida earlier this year, for instance, the birds had to be trucked part of the way. Putin didn’t have much better luck. The AP:

Only one crane followed Putin on his first flight, which he attributed to high winds that caused the hang glider to travel faster than usual, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. On the second flight, five birds followed Putin, but after a few circles only two had stuck with him for the full 15-minute flight.

This is what it looked like:

But this is what it reminds us of, the 1996 film Fly Away Home, which is itself based on the story of Bill Lishman’s Operation Migration.

 

More from Smithsonian.com:
Fly Away Home
Crazy Crab Migrations
When Plants Migrate

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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