Trial Run with Canada Geese May Be Life Flight for Cranes

Article excerpt

They call him Father Goose, an affectionate nickname for a man engaged in serious research. In 1993, sculptor William Lishman, piloting an ultralight plane, succeeded in leading a flock of Canada goose from their hatching place in Ontario to a farm in Virginia.

"Flying with the birds has become another career," Lishman says, trying to explain the sharp turn his life that has taken from art to science. "It started out as a way of getting a good look at birds in Hight." It also was an excuse to fly the ultralight aircraft, a cross between a lawn mower and a kite that Lishman describes as an airborne walk in the woods. "You are moving slower and quite close to everything" he says. "It gives you time to see the country It's a wonderful way to see the world the way the birds see it."

Lishman and his team started out with Canada geese because they are plentiful. He convinced some hatchlings that his ultralight was their mother and, in an epic voyage, led them on migration. Best of all, the researchers discovered they did not have to lead them back to Canada i the spring. As the men were ready for the return trip, took off and made the run on their own, picking up a few wild stragglers on the way

The story is told charmingly in the new book Father Goose, assembled from seven years Lishman's diary entries and published by Crown. Barbara Walters described audience response to her 20/20 story on Lishman as "the largest, warmest I've seen in years. …