Picks and Pans Review: The Winged Messenger

updated 05/29/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Wed., May 24, 8 P.M. ET)


One more account of a species whose future is being menaced by man, this hour-long Survival special chronicles the summer migration of the exquisite European crane from the hinterlands of Spain to Sweden. The frequent flier racks up 2,500 miles a year on its annual round-trip journey over Europe with stops in France and Germany, and its on-time record is exemplary. The gray crane's magical, majestic presence—it stands five feet tall and can fly up to 60 mph—has historically heralded the beginning of spring all along its route.

Although they're still plentiful, the birds' future now looks bleak thanks to the continued draining of Europe's wetlands, the felling of its forests and the construction of high-voltage power lines, which electrocute them. At least it's illegal to shoot them. Gorgeous photography captures the birds as they perform stunning aerial ballets and bond with their young. It's all beautiful but, in context, very saddening.

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