Whooping Cranes

Barbara J. Feldman

The endangered North American whooping crane has a remarkable story. Starting in 2001 (using a method pioneered by Bill Lishman and Joe Duff with Canada Geese) a flock of baby whoopers raised in captivity in Wisconsin was trained to follow an ultralight aircraft to their winter home in Florida. Learn more about whooping cranes and their amazing comeback story at the following sites.

  • ARKive: Whooping Crane5 stars

    The ARKive project has taken on the goal of gathering films and photographs of the world's species to preserve them for future generations. Their whooping crane collection includes twelve stunning photos and nine videos, as well as species quick facts such as Range & Habitat, Biology, and Threats & Conservation. "Today, cranes remain at risk from human development; collisions with power-lines are now a serious cause of mortality."

  • International Crane Foundation: Whooping Cranes5 stars

    This species field guide includes links to a photo gallery, a table of whooping crane numbers from 1938 to 2006, and a migration map. Unfortunately, the links are not underlined, so you'll really need to hunt for them. Be sure to visit the Kids page for instructions on building an origami crane, a printable Field Guild to Crane Behavior, and answers to commonly asked questions. "Q: How many kinds of cranes are there? A: There are 15 species in the crane family Gruidae. According to the conservation status designations assigned by International Crane Foundation, six of the species are considered endangered."

  • Journey North: Whooping Cranes5 stars

    Meet the Western Flock (the only wild migratory flock of whooping cranes) and the Eastern Flock (a reintroduced flock seeded with eleven chicks bred in captivity.) " With no wild parents to teach the way, new captive-bred chicks added each fall learn their migration route by following ultralight aircraft on their first journey south, and a few are also released to follow older cranes south. Each spring we eagerly wait to see if, when, and how the youngest crane-kids return north – unaided, wild and free. The goal: 25 breeding pairs from 125 birds released in the Eastern Migratory Flyway by 2020, with 18-20 chick introductions each year."

  • National Geographic: Whooping Crane Profile4 stars

    "Whooping cranes nearly vanished in the mid-20th century, with a 1941 count finding only 16 living birds. But since then, these endangered animals have taken a step back from the brink of extinction." This whooping crane overview from National Geographic includes an audio of the whoopers' loud shriek (you might need to turn your speaker volume down a tad!), and a short video describing their miraculous comeback.

  • Operation Migration: Whooping Crane Reintroduction5 stars

    Operation Migration is my whooping crane pick of the day. It includes photos, field journals, lots of sound files, population counts, and a kids section. The site navigation, however, is not up to par, so use the site map to find your way around. "What is aircraft-led migration? This technique relies on the birds' natural instinct called imprinting. Imprinting means the just-hatched waterfowl chick immediately trusts the first object it sees and follows the object. As soon as the chicks hatch, they bond with their parents and become inseparable. The OM team acts as surrogate parents, helping the birds imprint on the aircraft and conditioning them to fly with it."

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Whooping Cranes." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 10 Mar. 2009. Web. 4 Dec. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/whooping-cranes/ >.


  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published March 10, 2009. Last modified March 12, 2014.

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