Spices: Grus americana
The Whooping Crane is one of the largest North American birds and one of the most seriously
endangered. Standing nearly 1.5 m (5 ft) tall and with a 2.3 m (7.5 ft) wingspread, it is larger
than the much more common North American sandhill crane, G. canadensis. Like other cranes, the
whooping crane is a long necked, long legged bird of prairie and marsh. The long, powerful bill
is used for killing snakes, frogs, and other small animals. Adults have completely white plumage,
excerpt for black primary feathers on the wings, black legs, and bare red areas on the head.
They are known for their loud whooping cries, which can be heard as the birds migrate between
winter and summer homes. After elaborate courtship rituals, cranes build a nest of vegetation
on moist ground. Usually two eggs are laid, but only one chick survives to fly south for winter.
Whooping cranes formerly occupied widespread breeding areas in Canada and the northern United
States, but their numbers have diminished greatly. The bird is now protected by law on its
breeding grounds near Great Slave in Canada, an its wintering grounds in the Aransas National
Wildlife Refuge in Texas, and all along its migration route.
Attempts are being made to breed the whooping crane in captivity and to reintroduce eggs into
nature by placing them in the nests of sandhill cranes, who acts as foster parents. Although
some success has been achieved, the long-term fate of the whooping crane remains uncertain.