Whooping Crane

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Whooping Crane

Whooping Crane (Grus americana) By: Madyson Wing 9-2

Adult (One year and older)

Chick (Newborn- 2 months)

Juvenile (6-9 months)

Juvenile (3-5 months)

Similiar Species





Past Changes of Diversity

Migration Route

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Known as the tallest North American bird, the Whooping Crane stands at 5ft. tall and has a wingspan of 7-8ft. wide. While chicks and juvenile cranes are brown with white spots, within a year they develop into an overall snowy white color with a red crown and mustache stripe. They have a thick, aerodynamic bill that is a pinkish type color near the base of the bill, but becomes grayer closer to the tip. The tips of their wings are covered with black. Even though they're fully physicaly developped at one year, they can live up to 35-40 years.

Sandhill Crane: Similiar in shape of the Whooping Crane, but slightly smaller. Instead of a snowy white, they are an overall ashy gray with a pale face and solid black bill.Great Egret: It is both smaller and more slender then the whooping crane. It has a longer orange/yellow beak and no black on it's wing tips. Fun fact, it flies with it's long neck curled and tucked in.Snow Goose: This species is much smaller and stockier then the Whooping Crane. During flight, it's short legs don't extend past the tail, it has a stubby pink bill and a solid white head. While in flight, hunters often mistake the Snow Goose for the Whooping Crane.

In the early 1940's only 15-25 Whooping Cranes remained, both wild and captive. Over the years, the population has grown but the species is still on the endangered list. The last crane count according to Journey North was in March 2013 with an estimate of around 304 birds, both captive and wild. One of the reasons why the population has risen so slowly is because their migration causes them many casualties, both natural and human oriented:- Bad weather (ex:Tornadoes, Hailstorms)- Predators (ex: eagles, Penegrine falcons)-Fall migration collides with hunting season-Humans fill and drain wetlands, which reduce safe places to rest and feed.But the biggest cause are all the cell phone towers and power lines that they can't see when they are flying low.

These North American birds enjoy breeding in fresh water marshes and praries in the summer. Their nest however is a mound of vegetation on the ground with a shallow depression for the light brown eggs. Each female bird can only lay 1-3 in their lifetime, which is also one of the reasons why the Whooping Crane population has risen so slowly in the past 70-80 years.

Every fall and spring Wooping Cranes fly 3900 km from their summer home in Northern Alberta, Canada to Southern Texas, USA and vice versa. For rest stops and their winter spot, the cranes perfer grain fields, shallow lakes and salt water marshes.When cranes are blown off course they can still find the destination by having the ability to reconize the star patterns at night and pay attention to the sun during the day. By using their internal biological clock, they can tell if the sun is where it's supposed to be as the day progresses.

Sources- Canadianencyclopedia.ca- All about birds.com- InternationCraneAssosiation.com- Learner.org-JourneyNorth.com- Savingwhoopingcranes.co- currencewiki.wikispace.com

The Whooping Crane is an omnivore. During its breeding season, it is primarily canivorous eating a variety of small aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates. During its migration, it consumes a lot of vegetable matter. During the winter, it primarily consumes coastal invertebrates especially blue crabs and clams.

Symbiotic Relationships

The Sandhill crane is theoretically a competitor for the Whooping Crane. But it is a smaller, and has more of a vegetarian and land based diet. Thus, there does not seem to be a significant degree of competition between the two species.


The Whooping Crane's behavior is quite different compared to other species. These guys are just filled with attitude and the need to dance. The dance is filled with jumping, bobbing and wing-flapping . Since hatchig from the egg, dancing helps young cranes to build both physical and social skills. As they age and become ready to forge pair bonds, the singles dance to court each other. After they find a partener, they dance to strengthen their pair bonds and prepare for breeding. A video of their interesting and adorable dance above!

Founded in 1961, the Whooping Crane Conservation Assosiation is a non-profit organization incorporated in 1966 with the following stated objectives: 1. Advance conservation, protection, and propagation of the Whooping Crane2. To promote unity within all the Whooping Crane conservation programs to help ensure the survival of the species.The WCCA led the way in advocating the use of aviculture to establish the captive populations of whoopers which have made possible the many research efforts that have used captive-reared cranes. Two WCCA members conducted the first project to develop techniques, using sandhill cranes, that were later applied to collect eggs from the wild, transport, incubate, brood, and husband the young cranes.These flocks have now been expanded to include flocks at the zoo in Calgary Alberta Canada and the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Conservation Programs


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