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Birds learn to migrate

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Yes, people think we’re crazy,” says Johannes Fritz, with a wry smile. And surveying the scene, it is easy to see why. We are in a playing field, in a small village in Austria, close to the Slovenian border.

In it stands a makeshift camp, with all the usual outdoors paraphernalia. But it is the large aviary, containing 14 northern bald ibis and two human “foster parents” who are gently tending to their avian flock that really draws your attention. That, and the microlights parked nearby.

For the past couple of days, this unassuming spot has been home to the Waldrapp team, “Waldrapp” being another name for the northern bald ibis. This is no ordinary migration.

The scientists are teaching the birds their route by getting them to follow a microlight. A 1,300km flight from Germany to Italy.