It is for this reason that the Endangered Species Act remains one of the most important pieces of legislation when it comes to the preservation of wildlife. Humans are saviors thanks to this legislation, but all too often humans are the problem too.
There is no confusion between a whooping crane and another North American bird. The bird stands almost 5 feet tall on long legs with a long neck adding to a stately and graceful appearance. The snow-white plumage is accented by a red crown and mustache. In flight, the black wing tips are visible. An adult crane can weigh 15 pounds and have a wingspan of 7 feet.
According to the All About Birds website, the whooping crane fell to around 20 birds in the 1940s, but, thanks to captive breeding, wetland management and an innovative program that teaches young cranes how to migrate. , the number has increased. Recent surveys have found between 600 and 800 individuals.
Bird watchers who wish to see whooping cranes in the wild often head to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, the site where most of the remaining migrating whooping cranes in the world spend the winter months. This crane derives the “whooping cough” part of its common name from the loud, bugle call produced by the bird.
I only saw a whooping crane once more than 20 years ago when a migrating individual made a brief stop in a field in Greene County. I will always remember getting together with a group of other bird watchers and watching the bird through binoculars and spotting scopes. The bird’s cooperation ended when it took flight and soared on wide white wings and continued its migration. It was like a hope rising in the clouds.