Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane
Photo credit: ICF
Crane sounds: USGS/NorthWord Press

 

The Threatened or Endangered Birds of Florida

 

 

 

The Whooping Crane
Grus americana

 

To begin: what is a Bird?

A Bird is a warm blooded, bipedal (two legs)

vertebrate (has a backbone) with feathers,

bills and wings and most can fly.

It lays eggs to reproduce and many theories have

it classified as a direct descendant of Dinosaurs,

dating back to the Jurassic period.


There are two Crane species in Florida,

the Whooping Crane and the Sandhill Crane.

These two Cranes are the only ones in North America

and are most likely the oldest birds on Earth,

dating back possibly to over 6 million years.

 

In 1941 there were only 16 Whooping Cranes

still alive in this Country.

They were listed as Federally Endangered in 1967.

 

Today thru the efforts of heroes on many fronts,

the population has grown to over 400.

Although tragedies have followed them everywhere,

yet, still they prevail.

With a bit of luck, they just might make it as

Whooping Cranes are blessed to have dedicated, devoted

volunteers all over this country, whose mission is to assure that.

 

The magnificent Whooping Crane is the tallest Bird

in North America at nearly 5 feet.

 They have a wingspan of 7.5 feet.

The male Cranes weigh about 17  lbs.

and the females are about 14 lbs.

 

They have white bodies with black tips on their wings,

their legs are black and their heads are bright red.

Their bills are black.

 

Crane lifespan averages 20-24 years and

as with other great birds, they

care for their young together.

 

Whooping Cranes normally have 2 chicks/babies,

but rarely do they both survive.

Both Crane species mate for life, however if their

mate dies or is killed, they will remate.

Whooping Crane with Juvenile
Adult Whooping Crane and Juvenile
Photo credit: ICF

 

The mating dance of the Cranes is at once

 both comical and strangely beautiful.

Cranes dance not only when mating,

but at other times as if for the pure joy of it.

Whooping Cranes in flight
Whooping Cranes
Photo credit: ICF

 

When these Cranes fly, it is a spectacular sight,

they keep their necks straight and their

legs stretched out behind, making them

appear even larger than they are.

The Whooping Crane is omnivorous,

meaning that it will eat many things.

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Cranes
Photo credit: USFWS

 

As these magnificent birds fly directly over

homes in central Florida, they often squawk in a

bugle sound announcing their presence quite loudly.

their sounds can actually be heard for several miles away.

 

Younger ones alone in a field will often call repeatedly

until a parent shows up to calm its fears.

This primordial call is an eerie auditory reminder of

what the era of the dinosaur must have been like.

 

As the Whooping Cranes return to Florida each Winter,

any sightings should be reported to the USFWS,

the form to fill in that tells them who is where is here:

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm

 

This web site is dedicated to the Eastern Whooping Cranes:

Bring back the Cranes

 

Go here to hear the Cranes squawk:

Operation Crane Watch

 


A final note:

There is a wonderful documentary on PBS,

if you are lucky enough to get to see it:

Crane Song

It details the travels of the Cranes

and has some unforgettable moments~

 


Places to learn more:

 

Boreal Songbird Initiative

Whooping Crane

 

Cornell

All about Birds: The Whooping Crane

 

Dr. Gary Krapu

Cranes and the Platte River

 

Florida Habitat.org

Whooping Cranes Endangered by Wind Turbines

 

Forest.org

A Tale of Cranes

 

International Crane Foundation

Saving the Cranes

Whooping Crane Facts

 

National Geographic

Whooping Crane Profile

 

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Spring Migration - Cranes

 

Northern Prairie Wildlife Center

The Cranes

 

Platte River

Whooping Cranes

 

Southwest FWS

Whooping Crane Population Reaches Record

 

USFWS

General Information

Life History

Whooping Crane Facts

 

USGS Patuxent

Whooping Crane Biology, etc. - PDF full version online

Whooping Crane Flock Status and News

 


 

Walking with the Alligators

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Last edited November 19, 2017

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