Whooping Cranes are majestic birds with graceful courtship dances and trumpeting calls. They were so endangered that only around 20 survived in the 1940s but efforts to save them have increased their number to 600.
They have all-white bodies, a red crown, a black facial mask, and black feathers that are only visible in flight on their 7-foot wingspan. Their long legs are also black.
Juveniles also have white bodies but they have several splotches of rust. Their heads and upper necks are rust-brown.
- Grus americana
- Length: 52 in (132 cm)
- Weight: 204.8 oz (5804 g)
- Wingspan: 87 in (221 cm)
Whooping Cranes breed in a small area in Canada and migrate to Texas and a reintroduced population that breeds in Wisconsin migrates to Florida.
Habitat And Diet
You can find Whooping Cranes only in a few areas. Their breeding grounds are in Northern Canada in places with shallow wetlands and plenty of bulrushes and aquatic plants.
Their wintering grounds are in Texas where there are shallow bays, tidal flats, and estuarine marshes and sometimes on nearby farmlands and rolling grasslands.
Whooping Cranes forage on both land and water. They eat plants, berries, and seeds that they pick from the ground. When on or near water, they will probe below sand and soil to capture frogs, snakes, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans. Agricultural land also yields grains like barley, wheat, and corn.
Whooping Crane calls:
Nests of Whooping Cranes are located on small islands, particularly when there is tall and dense vegetation that can hide the nest. These may be around marshes or lake margins and both parents work together to build the nest.
The nests are made of grass and reeds with a shallow space for the eggs. The female lays one to three eggs and incubation by both parents takes around thirty-three days.
The Whooping Crane has the distinction of being the tallest bird native to North America at nearly five feet tall, nearly as tall as a human and they have been taught their migration routes to reintroduced areas by following ultralight aircraft.