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OM's Co-founders

Bill Lishman 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 "C'mon Geese."

On September 15, 2000, Bill was awarded Canada's prestigious Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for his first flights with geese. He participated in OM's migrations with Sandhill cranes, and as scout pilot  on the first two Whooping crane migrations in 2001 and 2002. Bill served on Operation Migration's Board of Directors until 2007 when he resigned from the organization.


Joseph DuffJoseph Duff

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 OM crew.

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, Virginia's Airlie Environmental Studies Centre.

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.

Duff has developed a keen interest in the science of migration and crane behaviour, and no doubt has accumulated more hours in flight alongside more species of birds than any other human.

Recently, Duff led a team of pilots that conducted an aerial survey in search of the elusive Ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas and Louisiana. His aircraft will go on permanent display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum beginning in 2006.

Joe and his wife Diana have one daughter, Alex. The family lives in the small town of Port Perry, Ontario, the home of Operation Migrationís headquarters.