| OM's Co-founders|
William Lishman M.S.M.
William Lishman is a well-known Canadian sculptor who has executed a multitude of commissioned public works internationally over his 40-year career. His work is an eclectic mix, dominated by life-size creations of dynamically posed wildlife.
In the 1970's, Bill was one of Canada's pioneers in ultralight aviation. He was the first Canadian to foot-launch and land a powered rigid-wing aircraft. In the mid 1980's, Bill took advantage of the slow flight capabilities of his home-brewed aircraft and spent three years developing a technique to lead Canada geese in the air.
His first formation flights with the geese were documented in 1988 in his first film, "C'mon Geese," which won six international awards. In 1990, he repeated the aircraft-led flights with a larger flock of geese. In 1993, joined by Toronto photographer Joseph Duff and working closely with doctor William Sladen from Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia, Bill and Joe conducted the first aircraft-led bird migration study, taking 18 Canada geese 400 miles from Ontario to Virginia. The success of this study was repeated again in 1994 and 1995, when Lishman and Duff led large flocks of geese almost 800 miles to the Tom Yawkey Wildlife preserve in South Carolina.
In 1995, Bill assisted in the making of Columbia Pictures
hit film "Fly Away Home," which
was directed by Carroll Ballard. Much of the film was
inspired by Lishman's autobiography,
"Father Goose," and many of the shots were re-makes of
Born in 1949, in rural Ontario, Joseph Duff developed an early appreciation for nature and a love of flying, earning his pilot's license while working in the Yukon Territories. Duff was one of Canada's leading commercial photographers, known primarily for his work with the world's major automobile manufacturers. After twenty years of running a studio in downtown Toronto, he began to look for new adventures.
Joe joined Bill Lishman in 1993 and helped conduct the
first human-led bird migration. The two "artists turned
naturalists" used two ultralight aircraft to lead 18 Canada
geese from Ontario to Virginia. The success of this initial
study led to the founding of Operation Migration the
following year, and the making of the movie 'Fly Away Home' in 1995.
For the film, Duff trained the 'actor geese' to follow the
aircraft, and worked closely with the production crew; even
contributing some of the footage. That same year he led
Sandhill cranes in flights around southern Ontario, as well
as leading 60 geese to South Carolina with Lishman and the
Once the 1997 Sandhill crane migration was completed,
Duff assisted Dr. William Sladen and Gavin Shire in the first
ultralight-led migration of Trumpeter swans, which was
carried out by Warrenton,
To address the problem of tameness in birds conditioned
to follow aircraft, Duff worked with the USGS Patuxent Wildlife
Research Center to establish an innovative costume-rearing
protocol used in an 1998 study. He developed the protocol
for the preliminary Sandhill crane study, and is leading the
team that is conducting the ongoing fieldwork, and annually leads a new
generation of Whooping cranes from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
in central Wisconsin over 1200 miles to the Chassahowitzka National
Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
Recently, Duff led a team
of pilots that conducted an aerial survey in search of the elusive
Ivory-billed woodpecker in