By Hayley Pugh
They say birds of feather flock together and these birds are no exception as they take to the skies with a microlight pilot they believe to be their mother.
Christian Moullec has been dubbed the ‘birdman’ for his extraordinary relationship with birds and as this breathtaking footage shows, the 58-year-old loves nothing more than sharing his passion with others – taking people up on his microlight and encouraging them to reach out and touch the birds mid-flight.
Christian, from Cantal in France, first starting flying with birds back in 1995 in a bid to migrate them to areas where they were well protected and stop their numbers declining.
Since then, he has dedicated his life to raising and training orphaned geese and helping birds on the brink of extinction.
Christian admitted it was a very long and difficult process encouraging the birds to fly with him but said he loved sharing his unique flying experience with others.
That notion is particularly apparent in this breathtaking montage of videos, which shows various species of birds flying with Christian and members of the public over France.
He said: “People are often overwhelmed with emotion by the experience.
“It is hard to describe what it feels like but I have people come from all over the world to fly with me.
“Some people will travel 15 hours on a plane just for 30 minutes flying with birds.”
The former meteorologist uses a theory known as imprinting, which works on the idea that the birds will regard the first moving thing they see upon hatching as their mother and will follow it anywhere and everywhere.
Christian hand rears them from birth and even allows them to share his home.
He added: ” I cry every day when I fly with my birds.
“They are the gods of flight yet they follow me as if I were their guide.
“They show me tremendous gratitude and I have to act like their spokesman.”
The Frenchman encourages passengers on his microlight to reach out and touch the birds mid-flight although admits that can sometimes end in disaster.
He said: “My birds are happy to be touched but generally birds do not like to be caressed in flight because it can unbalance them.
“If a bird is unbalanced during flight they can poo on the passenger and that has happened once or twice.”