Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Unusual Sighting

Whooping Cranes
A few years back I took a trip out to the Necedah NWR in central Wisconsin. I began to travel to Necedah the year before because it is known for being one of the best places in the world to photograph endangered Karner Blue butterflies. On this particular trip it was early October, which is a bit late in the season for Karners, but I had a free weekend day and wanted to go photograph some place that I had not photographed so often. The day was going well, photographing primarily red-headed woodpeckers, when as I was walking along a dirt road I spotted a pair of large white birds flying my way. As the got closer I was excited to see that it was a pair of whooping cranes.
Whooping Cranes
The whooping crane is one of the largest birds in North America and it is highly endangered. They stand about 5 feet tall and have over a seven foot wingspan. Because of habitat loss and unregulated hunting the population of the whooping crane dropped to just 15 birds by 1941. They were added to the endangered species list in 1967.  Since this time their population has been increased slowly to about 400 - 500 birds today. 
Whooping Cranes
Most of the cranes, around 300 or so, are a part of a flock that breeds in Wood Buffalo Park in Canada and winters in Aransas National Wildlife refuge in Texas. This flock are the decedents of the remaining 15. However there is concern about the population since they breed and winter together in the same location. A disease, natural disaster, or man made disaster could easily wipe out the entire flock in one shot. In order to avoid potential disaster the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership began to release birds into central Wisconsin. Young birds where then trained to fly to wintering grounds in Florida using ultra light aircraft. This project was based out of Necedah NWR. These birds are a part of the eastern flock, easy to tell because of the tracking bracelet on one of the legs, which now numbers over 100.      

14 comments:

Linda said...

I did a report on this crane way back in middle school, even though I had never seen one. My mother was amused when I attempted to imitate it's call: Curlew!

Cosette Paneque said...

Wow, these are gorgeous. I've never seen one either. Great photos.

KaHolly said...

I've taken the opportunity two years in a row now to go to S. TX to visit the Whooping Cranes, but I never saw them in the air. They are just gorgeous on the wing. Thanks so much for sharing your phenomenal photos today!

Roger Owen Green said...

UPLIFTING sight as well!
ROG, ABCW

Leslie: said...

Wow! Incredible shots of their UNDERBELLIES!

Leslie
abcw team

Kalpesh Ajugia said...

Wonderful captures...

Pixellicious Photos

Hildred said...

Great photos, - see many flocks of Sandhill Cranes migrating here, but don't think I have ever seen a Whooping Crane. Beautiful birds...

Hildred said...

Great photos, - see many flocks of Sandhill Cranes migrating here, but don't think I have ever seen a Whooping Crane. Beautiful birds...

janiceadcock said...

Wonderful shot of a rare bird.

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi These are stunning flight shots. Beautiful birds.

Pheno Menon said...

Unusual indeed. Lovely snaps. We are having W this week though...

PhenoMenon, ABCW Team
http://phenomenal-cuisines.throodalookingglass.com/2014/06/waffles-and-dark-chocolate-sauce/

Pheno Menon said...

Unusual indeed. Lovely snaps. We are having W this week though...

PhenoMenon, ABCW Team
http://phenomenal-cuisines.throodalookingglass.com/2014/06/waffles-and-dark-chocolate-sauce/

Marie said...

Great photos! Wonderful birds!

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