Whooping cranes are named for their loud 'whooping' call. It can be heard up to two miles away! This crane is one of the rarest birds in North America. Adults are white with black at the tips of the wings and have a bare, red patch of skin on top of their heads. Whooping cranes less than one year old are rust colored.
They eat clams, crabs, and crayfish in the winter, but scientists don’t know much about what they eat the rest of the year.
Wild whooping cranes breed in marshy areas of Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Their nests are piles of grasses or other plants. Female whooping cranes usually lay two eggs, but most of the time only one chick survives. In captivity, young whooping cranes are fed with a crane puppet.
Whooping cranes have been around for millions of years. They once lived in central Canada, Mexico, Utah and on the Atlantic coast. You won't find them there anymore!
Whooping cranes migrate about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) to Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, USA for the winter. Whooping cranes once nested between Louisiana and Canada. The birds started to die out in the 1800’s because of more people settling in the U.S.A. By 1941, there were only eleven whooping cranes in two flocks. One flock, with six birds, died out in 1948.
There are many reasons why whooping cranes are endangered. Whooping cranes have been made endangered mostly by humans. They have been searched for and killed just for their meat and feathers.
Whooping cranes are also losing their habitat. Humans cut down trees for agriculture. More watery swamps have been destroyed which makes less space for the whooping crane. These birds depended on this eco-system.
They have also been killed for their feathers. As long and beautiful as they are, they are often used for hat adornments or clothing.
People would sometimes
raid whooping crane nests because egg collectors would pay heavy sums for the rare and valuable eggs.
Whooping cranes are beautiful and interesting birds. With their great, white wings, whooping cranes are magnificent birds. Whooping cranes have a life span of about 25 years. I wouldn't want to shorten the
species' time on earth!
There are only about 400 whooping cranes left in the wild and in captivity. That should be enough reason for you to help. The whooping cranes need you! :)
The cranes are protected by international law so don’t go crane hunting! Their breeding and wintering grounds are protected refuges, and the whooping cranes are watched closely while migrating. The protection helped a lot. A flock of fifteen increased to 170.
In 1993, biologists started to release young whooping cranes into Florida, so they wouldn’t have to migrate. The cranes sometimes get caught in telephone or electrical wires when they migrate.
In 2001, scientists in the US used a special aircraft to lead young whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Florida. Then the birds migrated back to Wisconsin. What a relief!
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Bolen, Eric G. “Whooping Crane.” World Book Online Reference Center. 2006. 28 November 2006 <http://www.worldbookonline.com/wb/Article?id=ar602660>.
Conover, Adele. "Helping Whoopers." Ranger Rick; Jul2000: 22-22. Searchasaurus. 28 November 2006 <http//sasweb2.epnet.com/>.
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Madsen, Joyce Styron. "Operation Migration." Boys' Quest; Jun/Jul2002: 38-38. Searchasaurus. 28 November 2006 <http//sasweb2.epnet.com/>.
"Return of the Cranes." Ask. 26-29 Jul/Aug 2006: Searchasaurus.28 November 2006 <http//sasweb2.epnet.com/>.
"Whooping Crane." EEK. 12 December 2006 <http//www.dnr.state.wi.us/>.
"Why is the Whooping Crane Endangered?" USGS. 13 February 2007 <http://whoopers.usgs.gov/why.htm>.
Permission to use all of the photographs on this page is granted under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page> (December, 2006).
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