In the 1940s, the world’s population of whooping cranes totaled about 20. To combat the birds’ rapid decline, a group of government organizations launched a program at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel to breed and raise the birds—called “whoopers”—then lead their first migration, introducing them to life in the wild.
Operation Migration pilot Brooke Pennypacker stands—in a whooper costume, crane puppet in hand—alongside the ultralight he uses to train and imprint birds born at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Photograph by Christopher Lane.
Full-Screen Slideshow: Under Their Wing
This article appears in the April 2014 issue of Washingtonian.