2007 - 2016
At San Elijo Lagoon near Encinitas, California, members of the Ridgway’s Rail Recovery Team, including Wild Animal Park curator of birds Michael Mace (far left), lined up carriers containing the light-footed Ridgway’s rails ready for release. At the count of three, they tilted the boxes forward and opened the tabs, releasing the birds. Each one flew in a different direction until it found a spot that looked safe enough to land. Once on the ground, the birds headed into the vegetation and vanished into the marsh. The team couldn’t help but applaud.