Whooping Crane - Grus americana - Endangered
Descritpion: The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America. It stands 5 feet tall and has the wingspan of 7 feet. It is a white bird with black tips on the wings and red markings on the head.
From Chick to Whooping Crane: The courtship rituals of the whooping crane are quite unique. The adults' performance can be compared to something like a dance. Adults squawk, flap their wings, bow their heads and leap into the air. Whooping cranes mate for life. Two eggs are laid in a nest of bulrush and other vegetation. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the young. Usually only the larger, more aggressive chick survives.
What's for Dinner?: Whooping cranes feed on crabs, crayfish, frogs, and other small aquatic life as well as plants.
Here to There: There are about 145 whooping cranes in the wild. A large flock migrates between the Northwest Territories in Canada to the Aransas NWR on the coast of Texas. During the 1991 fall migration there were 8 sightings in North Dakota from late September to mid-October. Most sightings occurred in the western 2/3 of the state.
Natural Habitat: The natural habitat of the whooping crane includes shallow wetlands with cattails, bulrushes and sedges. They can also be found in upland areas, especially during migration.
Interesting Facts: Whooping cranes may live 20 years.
Reason for Population Decline: The main reasons for the decline in population are loss of habitat and shooting.
Road to Recovery: Eggs from wild birds (1 per nest) have been removed and hatched in captivity. The captive birds are now reproducing.