Named for their loud, resonating call which carries for miles, whooping cranes are snowy white, with black wing-tips, feet, and beak. Their cheeks and crown are bright red. Juveniles are white with a mottled caramel head and neck. Adults attain a wing-span of up to seven feet. In flight, the whooper extends its long neck and legs.
Whooping cranes breed in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada's Northwest Territories and migrate 2,400 miles annually to their protected coastal wintering grounds in Texas' Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The cranes begin arriving in late October and remain until mid-April, at which time they begin the long journey back to Canada. Each crane family occupies a large territory of approximately one square mile, defending it from predators and other cranes. Crane pairs normally lay two eggs, only one of which usually results in a surviving chick. Each winter, as the whooping cranes migrate from Canada to Texas, be sure to check the Texas whooping crane count.
Whooping cranes feed on blue crabs, clams, snails and other small marine creatures, and augment their diet with acorns, berries, insects, and crayfish.
Texas is blessed to have such a rare and beautiful bird as the whooping crane grace its coastal marshes each year. Whoopers can occasionally be viewed from the observation tower at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, but the best way to view the cranes is by tour boat. Rockport Birding & Kayak Adventures
Meet more Texas wildlife