Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Whoopers

Whooping Crane in Flight
 The whooping crane is one of the tallest bird species in North America. They are also one of the most endangered bird species in the world. Because of loss of habitat and excessive hunting there were only 23 whooping cranes left on the planet in early 1940's. Sixteen of the birds belonged to a flock that migrated between the Buffalo National Park in Canada, where they breed, and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, where they spend the winter. The other six birds belonged to a non-migratory population in Louisiana. By the 1950s the whoopers were gone from Louisiana leaving only the Aransas -Buffalo flock.    
Whooping Crane in Flight
By the 1940's the whooping crane was protected from hunting by the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929. In 1966 the Endangered Species Preservation Act was passed by Congress which was replaced by the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The whooping crane was included in both lists which helped in saving some of the remaining critical habitat that these birds required. Because of these new laws and other conservation efforts the Aransas-Buffalo flock had over 100 birds by 1986 and today they are up to 278, as of 2010-2011. A small flock of non-migratory birds has also returned to Louisiana, about 24 birds, and there is a small flock of about 20 non-migratory birds in Florida. There is also a group out of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin that is working to build a second migratory flock, just in case some disaster where to kill off the Aransas-Buffalo flock. They use an ultra-light airplane to lead the cranes between Wisconsin and Florida each year. The cranes pictured above are part of the Necedah flock. The top photo was taken in Northfield, MN where a pair stopped to rest and feed. The second photo was taken at Necedah where a pair flew in right above me as I was visiting the park one fall. The Necedah population consisted of 115 birds as of 2010-2011.All the crane population numbers come from the International Crane Foundation.   

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12 comments:

Crafty Gardener said...

They are big birds. Great photos.

HansHB said...

Lovely photos! Nice to see them!

Carver said...

Fantastic shots of the Whooping Crane and good information too. Carver, ABC-Wed. Team

Springman said...

A fascinating story of a great work in progress...And what magnificent birds, how much poorer our world would be without them.
Thanks for sharing!

Dave said...

its a fragile world that we live in - so close to the edge.

Great insight and a stonking good bird

mick said...

Great photos of the birds and a wonderful conservation effort.

Roger Owen Green said...

that's a potentially sad tale - hope they survive!
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Carole M. said...

hadn't heard of this one before; wonderful photographs!

Shooting Parrots said...

They are beautiful birds. It's hard to imagine why anyone would want to hunt them.

Aviary said...

Majestic indeed! Nice post!

Paula Scott said...

I love whooping cranes. I hope I get to see a live one someday...nice shots!

zongrik said...

very interesting and elegant birds



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