December 11, 2013 9:53:15 AM
GAUTIER -- A flock of 22 young cranes are getting their first taste of freedom at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.
Their wing restraints were taken off Tuesday.
As the biggest group of youngsters to grace the refuge, the birds have been kept in four pens since their arrival last month from the Audubon Institute in New Orleans.
The restraints have kept them in the pens so they can get acclimated to the area.
Scott Hereford, supervisory biologist at the refuge, tells The Sun Herald most of the time, the birds don't know they can fly so they just continue to walk around the pens.
Tuesday morning, though, the first bird released did not dawdle and took flight within minutes of being let go.
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