Flying a motorized hang glider, the Russian leader attempted to take a flock of the endangered Siberian white cranes from their summer sanctuary near the Arctic circle to warmer southern grounds as winter approaches.
The only problem was just a handful of the birds followed Putin.
His first attempt found just one of the cranes willing to fly alongside the hang glider. A second attempt attracted five birds, but they fell off pace after about 15 minutes, RIA Novosti reported.
Putin said afterward his hang glider was going too fast for the birds to keep up.
The birds, born under human care in the sub-Arctic sanctuary, are unable to migrate on their own because they lack parent birds who have made the trip south before and can show them the way.
For his part, Putin said the excursion was a success.
"I feel great relief because everything has come off so well," he said. "The birdies did a great job."