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The Ultra Geese

1997
Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by William Lishman and In the Sky Productions
Directed by William Lishman
VHS, color, 49 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Environmental Studies


Reviewed by Mary Beth Weber, Technical and Automated Services, Rutgers University Libraries

Recommended   
 


The Ultra Geese tells the story of biologist Bill Lishman and his experimental work with various migratory birds, in particular Canadian geese. Many viewers may be familiar with Lishman's story from network television programs or the Columbia Pictures feature film Fly Away Home, based on his work. Lishman and his crew sought to teach endangered species new migratory routes in an effort to restore dwindling populations. It was believed that teaching the birds new migratory routes, which were formerly taught by previous generations, might help to rebuild diminished populations. In order to test his theory, Lishman and his assistants first worked with two generations of a non-endangered bird species, the Canadian goose. This film traces the development of Lishman's experiment, from the birth of the first generation of "ultra geese" to resulting migratory trips to Virginia, and later South Carolina.

The film captures the essence of the difficulties encountered while raising and conditioning the geese to fly with ultra-light planes. The quality of the picture and sound are good for much of the film. There are a few sequences at the beginning of the film where shots are wobbly and slightly out of focus. Whether this is the result of using a hand held camera in a moving vehicle or is meant for effect is unclear. However, it does not detract from the rest of the film. Additionally, background music is appropriate and subtle, and never overpowers the film.

Shots of the geese in flight are spectacular, as are shots of the American landscape as Lishman and his fellow ultra-light pilot fly with the geese. Some shots of geese in flight have been electronically slowed down to permit observation of the total bird in flight.

The Ultra Geese is an informative and interesting film with some very touching moments (including the big welcome Lishman and the geese receive when they arrive in Virginia after their first migration). It could easily be used for a number of audience levels, ranging from elementary school to adult. Similarly, the film is appropriate for the collections of public, school, or university libraries. It is general in the sense that it could be used for a variety of purposes such as to educate children about birds and migration, or for "educational entertainment" (much like programs shown on the cable channel Animal Planet). This film is recommended for purchase.