The Whooping Crane is named for its call, which can be heard over great distances thanks to the bird’s extra-long trachea, which coils around its breastbone twice like a French horn. Like other cranes, the Whooper is noisy; the word “crane” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “cran,” which means “to cry out.”
The tallest flying bird in North America, Whooping Cranes measure up to five feet tall with a seven- to eight-foot wingspan. The species also has another distinction: It is the rarest crane in the world. Several decades ago, it almost disappeared forever due to habitat loss and hunting.
Still extremely rare, Whooping Cranes are on the WatchList and protected as an endangered species. Sadly, up to one-quarter of all Whoopers are shot and killed. (Participate in our action alert to bring the shooters to justice.)
Whooping Cranes are monogamous and mate for life. Pairs perform an elaborate dance display during courtship, with leaps, wing flaps, head tosses, and flinging of light objects such as feathers and grass.
The last wild flock of Whoopers numbered fewer than 20 birds in the 1940s. Fortunately, conservation efforts and international cooperation between Canada and the United States reversed what looked like a sure extinction.
Loss or deterioration of critical wetland habitat (including reduced fresh water at wintering grounds in Texas) remains one of the biggest threats facing wild Whooping Cranes. This limited amount of habitat leaves the birds vulnerable to catastrophic weather events or oil spills. Collisions with power lines and wind turbines are an ongoing threat.
And again, Illegal shooting, most recently in Kentucky and Louisiana, still occurs. In the past five years, at least 16 Whooping Cranes have been shot, and most court sentences have been an insufficient deterrent.
This article was first published by American Bird Conservancy.
Share on social media:
You may also like:
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- POLL: Should the export of elephants to China be banned? [2000 Views]
- POLL: Should the slaughter of badgers be allowed to continue? [1376 Views]
- POLL: Should the slaughter of Borneo’s pygmy elephants be stopped? [1086 Views]
- New year, new birds: 10 newly-recognised species [1041 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [924 Views]
- POLL: Should Arab sheikhs be allowed to hunt bustards? [912 Views]
- New Estimate: There are Over 18,000 Bird Species on Earth [716 Views]
- POLL: Should neonicotinoid pesticides be banned to save our bees? [710 Views]
- Kissing cows are to blame for bovine TB – so stop this bloody badger cull [693 Views]
- POLL: Should orca entertainment shows be universally banned? [693 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [41995 Views]
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16711 Views]
- POLL: Should the annual Canadian seal hunt be banned? [13925 Views]
- POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [13714 Views]
- POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11108 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [9813 Views]
- POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8542 Views]
- POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8295 Views]
- POLL: Should black bears be killed for Royal Guards’ fur caps? [8033 Views]
- POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7356 Views]