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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

Whooping cranes represent one of the best-known conservation stories in North America and these elegant birds have captured public imagination. Whooping cranes have almost entirely white plumage, with the exception of red and black markings on the face and black tips to the wings, which are only visible when out-stretched (5). Juveniles are a reddish-cinnamon colour, becoming mottled over time until the full snow-white feathers are achieved by the end of their second summer (6). These cranes are the tallest birds in North America, and males may reach up to 1.5 metres in height (5). When flying, the neck is stretched out in front and the thin, black legs trail behind (5).
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Biology

Whooping cranes are monogamous and generally mate for life, once they have reached sexual maturity at three to five years of age (6). These birds undertake a spectacular migration of over 4,000 kilometres from summer nesting grounds in the north, to winter feeding grounds in the south (5). As the days get longer and spring approaches, the flock on the winter site becomes restless; dancing, calling and flying before family groups and pairs finally begin the journey north (6). Birds arrive at the breeding area in April and pairs return to the same nesting territory over consecutive years. Generally a clutch of two eggs is laid although only one chick is usually reared to maturity (5). Both parents take part in incubating and rearing the chick, which hatches after roughly one month (5). In September, the first individuals leave for the return migration south as the cold begins to set in (5). These birds are omnivorous, feeding on a range of wetland species. Preferred winter foods include blue crabs and clams, whilst in the summer aquatic invertebrates, small fish, frogs and berries may be consumed (6). During migration the birds primary source of food is waste grain in agricultural fields (5).
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Distribution

Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) The historical range extended from the Arctic coast of North Amercica south to central Mexico, and from Utah east to New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida; in the 19th and 20th centuries, nesting occurred principally in the region extending from central Canada to the north-central United States (see CWS and USFWS 2007). Current distribution includes just three populations: (1) the Aransas-Wood Buffalo National Park Population that nests in Wood Buffalo National Park and adjacent areas in Canada (south-central Mackenzie and adjacent northern Alberta) and winters in coastal marshes in Texas, with significant migration stopovers in southern Saskatchewan, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma; (2) a reintroduced non-migratory Florida Population that occurs in central Florida; and (3) a reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population that migrates between Wisconsin (Necedah National Wildlife Refuge) and Florida (Chassahowitzka NWR) (CWS and USFWS 2007).

Extent of occurrence (breeding) appears to be less than 5,000 square kilometers.

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Grus americana is a native migratory bird species within the Nearctic region. The historical breeding range extends throughout the central United States and Canada and also used to include parts of north central Mexico. Few wild populations occur today. One population breeds within the Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and overwinters along the Gulf Coast in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge of Texas. A second, minute population spends the summer in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, and migrates to their wintering grounds in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. A third introduced, non-migratory population resides in the Kissimmee Prairie, Florida. When the Wood Buffalo and Rocky Mountain populations migrate, they stop over in the United States and Canada, in North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Montana, and Saskatchewan.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Allen, R. 1952. The Whooping Crane: Research Report No. 3 of the National Audubon Society. New York, NY: National Audubon Society.
  • Armbruster, M. 1990. Characterization of Habitat Used by Whooping Cranes During Migration. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Biological Report, 90(4): 1-16.
  • Doughty, R. 1989. Return of the Whooping Crane. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Hayes, M., A. Lacy, J. Barzen, S. Zimorski, K. Hall, K. Suzuki. 2007. An Unusual Journey of Non-migratory Whooping Cranes. Southeastern Naturalist, 6(3): 551-558.
  • Hughes, J. 2008. Cranes: A Natural History of a Bird in Crisis. Richmond Hill: Firefly Books.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1983. Cranes of the World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Kuyt, E. 1993. Whooping Crane, Grus americana, Home Range and Breeding range expansion in Wood Buffalo National Park, 1970-1991. The Canadian Field-Naturalist, 107(1): 1-12.
  • Lewis, J. 1995. Whooping Crane Grus americana. The Birds of North America, 153: 1-28.
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Range Description

Grus americana declined from historic estimates of >10,000 prior to European settlement of North America to 1,300-1,400 birds by 1870, and only 15 adults in 1938 (CWS and USFWS 2007). The three wild populations totalled 385 in December 2008 (Stehn 2008), including two reintroduced populations in the eastern U.S. that are not yet self-sustaining. The only natural wild population breeds in Wood Buffalo National Park, on the border of Northwest Territories and Alberta, Canada, and winters at and near to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, USA (Meine and Archibald 1996). It totalled 266 birds in 2007 (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007), with 65 active nests (B. Johns, in litt. 2007), followed by a record 270 birds in spring 2008 (Archibald 2009), dropping to 247 in spring 2009 (Archibald 2009) following a drought in the wintering quarters in Texas. A reintroduced, non-migratory flock in Florida numbered c.41 individuals in 2007, with additional releases put on hold (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007). A reintroduced flock migrates between Wisconsin and Florida, numbering 75 birds in 2007 (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007), increasing to c.90 birds in 2008 (Stehn 2008). A new reintroduced flock comprising 10 juveniles was established in south-western Louisiana in early 2011 (Zimorski 2011). The first wild born chick fledged in Wisconsin and migrated successfully in 2006 (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007) and another wild born chick hatched in June 2009 (Garland and Peterson 2009). Captive flocks totalled 151 birds in 2008 at 5 breeding centres and 6 display facilities in the USA and Canada (Stehn 2008). Overall, the global wild population has increased in numbers since 1938.

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Non-breeding

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Historic Range:

Canada, U.S.A. (Rocky Mountains east to Carolinas), Mexico
Ex.Pop. WI,FL

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Range

Breeds n Canada; winters coastal se Texas.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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The whooping crane is found only in North America [3]. Historically its
range extended from the Arctic coast south to central Mexico and from
the Rocky Mountain region in Utah eastward to the Atlantic coast [3,10].
Only two populations exist today [11]. The only known breeding
population of whooping cranes nests in and around Wood Buffalo National
Park in the southern Northwest Territories and northern Alberta. This
population winters along the coast of Texas near Corpus Christi on the
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Matagorda Island, Isla San Jose, and
portions of the Lamar Peninsula and Welder Point, which is on the east
side of San Antonio Bay known as Welder Point. Some occur occasionally
on nearby farmlands [3,10]. The migration route includes much of the
Great Plains region between northern Canada and the Texas coast [3,11].
This route passes through northeastern Alberta, southwestern
Saskatchewan, northeastern Montana, western and central North and South
Dakota, central Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and east-central Texas [10].

Using greater sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) as foster
parents, a second flock was established at Grays Lake National Wildlife
Refuge in southeastern Idaho in 1975 [11]. This population summers in
the vicinity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which includes
Yellowstone National Park; Grays Lake, Island Park, and Teton Basin in
Idaho; Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming; and the Centennial Valley in
Montana [3]. These whooping cranes winter with greater sandhill cranes
in the Rio Grande area of south-central New Mexico [7].
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]
  • 11. Reel, Susan; Schassberger, Lisa; Ruediger, William, compilers. 1989. Caring for our national community: Region 1 - threatened, endangered & sensitive species program. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region. 309 p. [19675]
  • 3. Clark, Tim W.; Harvey, Ann H.; Dorn, Robert D.; [and others], eds. 1989. Rare, sensitive, and threatened species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Montana Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Mountain West Environmental Services. 153 p. [16007]
  • 7. Johnsgard, Paul A. 1983. Cranes of the world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 257 p. [19678]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

7 Lower Basin and Range
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
14 Great Plains
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Occurrence in North America

ID MT NM TX WY AB NT SK

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Range

Previously, whooping cranes were found over much of North America, from the Arctic coast in the north to central Mexico, and from Utah in the west to New Jersey and Florida (6). By the mid-20th Century however, the migratory population had declined to just 16 individuals and the non-migratory population in Louisiana had disappeared completely (7). Following a massive conservation effort, a self-sustaining population exists today, breeding in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada and spending the winter in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast (8). A non-migratory population has also been introduced to Kissimmee Prairie in Florida (6) and a migratory population is currently being established that will summer in Wisconsin and winter in Florida (9).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Adult whooping cranes are large, long-legged birds with long necks that measure 130 to 160 cm in length, and feature a wingspan of 200 to 230 cm. They are primarily white in color. Their primary wing feathers and long legs are black, while their toes are grayish-rose in color. The crown, lores, and malar areas are bare skin that varies in color from bright red to black. The bare skin is covered in short, black bristles that are the most dense around the edges of bare skin. They feature yellow eyes and a bill that is pinkish at the base, but mostly gray or olive in color. Both sexes resemble each other, however, the male whooping crane weighs more. Adult males and adult females weigh an average of 7.3 kg and 6.4 kg respectively. Young whooping crane chicks are cinnamon or brown in color along the back and a dull gray or brown on the underbelly. Juvenile whooping cranes have feather-covered heads and white plumage which is blotched cinnamon or brown. The area of the crown which becomes bare skin has short feathers.

Closely related sandhill cranes are gray and smaller than whooping cranes but they may appear white, especially in the sun. In flight, wood storks resemble whooping cranes, but they feature black secondary as well as primary feathers, yellow feet, and a short neck that is bare, dark skin.

Range mass: 4.5 to 8.5 kg.

Range length: 130 to 160 cm.

Average length: 150 cm.

Range wingspan: 200 to 230 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; male larger

  • 2003. Cranes. Pp. 23-36 in J Jackson, W Bock, D Olendorf, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, Second Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
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Size

Length: 132 cm

Weight: 5826 grams

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Diagnostic Description

Differs from sandhill crane in being mainly white instead of gray. Differs from white ibis in being larger and having a straight bill rather than a decurved one. Differs from white herons and egrets in having black primaries and red facial skin. Differs from snow goose in having much longer legs and neck. Differs from white swans in having black primaries, much longer legs, and a pointed bill.

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Ecology

Habitat

Whooping crane habitat, especially for nesting, consists of open areas close to large amounts of water and vegetation. The open area is especially important to visually detect possible predators. Whooping cranes nest in wetland and marsh areas or close to shallow ponds or lakes. Bulrush (Scirpus validus) marshes and diatom ponds are common and bogs are avoided. The habitats chosen typically include willow, sedge meadows, mudflats, and bulrush and cattail (Typha latifolia) marshes. These habitat types not only provide protection for predators but also provide a variety of food opportunities. During migration, whooping cranes seek similar habitats in wetlands, submerged sandbars and agricultural fields. In the winter, wet habitats are also sought out in the form of brackish bays and coastal marshes. Grus americana prefers marshes with a typical pH range of 7.6 to 8.3.

The elevation varies considerably due to the wintering and breeding ranges for whooping cranes. The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Mexico is at low elevations between 0 to 10 m. The northern breeding grounds in the Wood Buffalo National Park can reach elevations of up to 945 m.

Range elevation: 0 to 945 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; coastal ; brackish water

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It breeds in prairie wetlands, preferring small, shallow lakes and ponds, willow communities, marshes, mudflats and perhaps sedge meadows, but this may be atypical considering its historical range (Archibald and Meine 1996, Timoney 1999). Eggs are laid from late April to mid-May (Archibald and Meine 1996). It winters in coastal brackish wetlands.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Comments: Nesting occurs in dense emergent vegetation (sedge, bulrush) in shallow (often slightly alkaline) ponds (Kuyt 1995), freshwater marshes, wet prairies, or along lake margins. Pothole breeding sites in Canada are separated by narrow ridges vegetated by black spruce, tamarack, and willow. The nest is a mound of marsh vegetation rising about 20-50 centimeters above the surrounding water level.

Habitat during migration and winter includes marshes, shallow lakes, lagoons, salt flats, grain and stubble fields, and barrier islands (AOU 1983, Matthews and Moseley 1990). Radio-marked migrants roosted primarily in palustrine wetlands, many of which were smaller than 0.5 hectares (Howe 1989). Migration habitat includes mainly sites with good horizontal visibility, water depth of 30 centimeters or less, and minimum wetland size of 0.04 hectares for roosting (Armbruster 1990, which see for further details).

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Preferred Habitat

More info for the term: cover

Nesting habitat - Whooping cranes breed and nest along lake margins or
among rushes and sedges in marshes and meadows [1,3,7,10,11]. The water
in these wetlands is anywhere from 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) to as much
as 18 inches (46 cm) deep. Many of the ponds have border growths of
bulrushes and cattails, which occasionally cover entire bays and arms of
the larger lakes. Nesting has also been reported on muskrat houses and
on damp prairie sites [7]. Whooping cranes prefer sites with minimal
human disturbance [3].

Winter habitat - Whooping cranes winter on estuarine marshes, shallow
bays, and tidal salt flats [11]. The salt flats vary under differing
tidal conditions from dry sandy flats to pools of salt water up to 3
feet (1 m) deep [7]. Whooping cranes stop on wetlands, river bottoms,
and agricultural lands along their migration route [11].
  • 1. Allen, Robert P. 1952. The whooping crane. New York: National Audubon Society. 246 p. [19680]
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]
  • 11. Reel, Susan; Schassberger, Lisa; Ruediger, William, compilers. 1989. Caring for our national community: Region 1 - threatened, endangered & sensitive species program. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region. 309 p. [19675]
  • 3. Clark, Tim W.; Harvey, Ann H.; Dorn, Robert D.; [and others], eds. 1989. Rare, sensitive, and threatened species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Montana Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Mountain West Environmental Services. 153 p. [16007]
  • 7. Johnsgard, Paul A. 1983. Cranes of the world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 257 p. [19678]

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Associated Plant Communities

More info for the term: bog

Whooping cranes' nesting grounds consist of wetland communities
dominated by bulrush (Scirpus valicus). Cattail (Typha spp.), water
sedge (Carex aquatilis), musk-grass (Chara spp.), slim-stem reedgrass
(Calamagrostis neglecta), and spikerush (Eleocharis spp.) are also
common [7,10]. These wetlands are separated by narrow ridges which
support an overstory of black spruce (Picea mariana), tamarack (Larix
laricina), and willow (Salix spp.) and an understory of bog birch
(Betula glandulosa), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), and bearberry
(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) [10].

The salt flats of their wintering grounds are dominated by coastal
saltgrass (Distichlis spicata var. spicata), saltwort (Batis maritima),
smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), glasswort (Salicornia spp.),
bushy sea-oxeye (Borrichia flutescens), and gulf cordgrass (S.
spartinae) [7,10]. The upland portion of the wintering grounds is
predominately live oak (Quercus virginiana) and redbay (Persea borbonia)
[10].
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]
  • 7. Johnsgard, Paul A. 1983. Cranes of the world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 257 p. [19678]

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Cover Requirements

Wetlands provide the whooping crane with protection from terrestrial
predators [10].
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES41 Wet grasslands

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

12 Black spruce
38 Tamarack
40 Post oak - blackjack oak
63 Cottonwood
88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak
203 Balsam poplar
235 Cottonwood - willow
253 Black spruce - white spruce

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K063 Foothills prairie
K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss
K069 Bluestem - grama prairie
K072 Sea oats prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K076 Blackland prairie
K077 Bluestem - sacahuista prairie
K078 Southern cordgrass prairie
K084 Cross Timbers
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest

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The main population of whooping cranes is migratory; the summer nesting grounds are poorly drained wetlands, whilst the population overwinters in salt marshes in the south (5) (6).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Now migrates mainly through Great Plains from southern Canada and Dakotas south to Texas (arrives around mid-October). Introduced individuals migrate from Idaho (also Utah, Montana, and Wyoming) south primarily to central New Mexico (this population is headed for extirpation). Pairs or family groups begin northward migration early to mid-April. An 85,000 sq km area in Saskatchewan appears to serve as a premigratory staging area in fall, but there are no critical, traditional wetlands used elsewhere by migrants (Howe 1989). Spring migrants use Platte Valley during northward migration. See Howe (1989) for information on migration between Texas and Saskatchewan (distribution patterns of radio-tracked individuals differed greatly from distributions derived from opportunistic sightings). See also Johnsgard (1991) for details on spring and fall migration.

An attempt to establish a nonmigratory population in Florida was underway in the early 1990s.

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Trophic Strategy

Whooping cranes are omnivorous and eat a variety of plant and animal material both on the ground and in water. The primary wintering foods are blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and wolfberry fruits (Lycium carolinianum). Other wintering foods include: clams, acorns, snails, grasshoppers, mice, voles and, snakes. Among foods they eat in winter, blue crabs provide the highest crude protein value and wolfberries have the highest metabolic energy and lipid content. On migratory stopovers through the central United States and Saskatchewan, whooping cranes feed on plant tubers and waste grains in agricultural fields. While on breeding grounds their diet consists of minnows, insects, frogs, snakes, mice, berries, crayfish, clams and snails.

Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; insects; mollusks; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: roots and tubers; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

  • Butzler, R., S. Davis. 2006. Growth patterns of Carolina wolfberry (Lycium carolinianum L.) in the salt marshes of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, USA. Wetlands, 26(3): 845-853.
  • Nelson, J., D. Slack, G. Gee. 1996. Nutritional Value of Winter Foods for Whooping Cranes. The Wilson Bulletin, 108(4): 728-739.
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Comments: During summer, feeds on insects, crustaceans, and berries; winter diet includes grains, acorns, wolfberry fruit, insects, crustaceans (e.g., blue crab, crayfish), mollusks (e.g., the clam TAGELLUS PLEBIUS and the snail MELAMPUS COFFEUS), fishes, amphibians, reptiles, marine worms (USFWS 1980, Hunt and Slack 1989). Blue crabs obtained from flooded tidal flats and sloughs dominate diet in Texas until January; then cranes move to shallow bays and channels to eat clams and an occasional crab (Matthews and Moseley 1990). Radio-marked migrants fed primarily in a variety of croplands (Howe 1989). Probes in mud or sand in or near shallow water, takes prey from water column, or picks items from substrate (Ehrlich et al. 1992).

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Food Habits

More info for the term: marsh

Whooping cranes are omnivorous feeders. Some of the more common food
items taken are crabs, clams, shrimp, snails, frogs, snakes,
grasshoppers, larval and nymph forms of flies, beetles, water bugs,
birds and small mammals [1,3,10]. They eat over 58 species of fish [1].

During the fall, whooping cranes eat blue crabs (Callinectes sapiden)
almost exclusively. In December and January the tidal flats and sloughs
drain and the birds move into shallow bays and channels to forage. In
these areas whooping cranes feed primarily on clams of at least six
species. Clams are important food items during periods of low water and
cold temperatures, and during drought when high salinities reduce the
blue crab population [10]. Plants commonly eaten include saltgrass
(Distichlis spp.), three-square rush, beaked spikerush (Eleocharis
rostellata), marsh onion, saltwort, and the acorns of live oak, pin oak
(Quercus palustris), and blackjack oak (Q. marilandica) [1].
  • 1. Allen, Robert P. 1952. The whooping crane. New York: National Audubon Society. 246 p. [19680]
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]
  • 3. Clark, Tim W.; Harvey, Ann H.; Dorn, Robert D.; [and others], eds. 1989. Rare, sensitive, and threatened species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Montana Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Mountain West Environmental Services. 153 p. [16007]

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Associations

Whooping cranes are both predators and prey to a number of species. Because there are so few of them, they probably can't serve as the main prey to another species. Whooping cranes do play host to some parasites, and Coccidia parasites in particular. These have been found in both captive and wild whooping cranes and are transmitted through feces. These parasites include Eimeria gruis and E. reichenowi. Coccidiosis is less likely to occur in wild populations due to the large territory and small brood size of whooping cranes.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Whooping cranes are subject to predation from both terrestrial and aerial predators Some common terrestrial predators include black bear, wolverines, gray wolves, red foxes, lynx, bobcats, coyotes, and raccoons. Bald eagles, northern ravens, and golden eagles are all aerial predators of cranes. Golden eagles have been reported to attack whooping cranes in the air and are a significant threat during migration. Whooping cranes fly at very high altitudes during migration, which may be a strategy to avoid these fatal aerial attacks.

Whooping cranes are the most vulnerable in the first year and especially up until fledging. Dry years make the young particularly vulnerable as the nests are easily accessible to terrestrial predators. They have a number of strategies for preventing attacks such as alarm calls or a distraction display for large predators. The most common display is a slow walk strut, with the body turned sideways to the predator and the feet lifted high. This emphasizes the crane's large size and may deter an attack. If the predator persists, a whooping crane lowers its bill to the ground and releases a low growl. As a final warning before a physical attack, a crane will face the predator, and spread and droop its wings while extending its neck. When a large predator nears the nest, the incubating parent may leave the nest to lure the predator away by dragging its wing in a distraction display.

Known Predators:

  • Cole, G., N. Thomas, M. Spalding, R. Stroud, R. Urbanek, B. Hartup. 2009. Postmortem Evaluation of Reintroduced Migratory Whooping Cranes in Eastern North America. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 45(1): 29-40.
  • Ellis, D., K. Clegg, J. Lewis, E. Spaulding. 1999. Golden Eagle Predation on Experimental Sandhill and Whooping Cranes. The Condor, 101(3): 664-666.
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Predators

Potential predators of the whooping crane include the black bear (Ursus
americanus), wolverine (Gulo luscus), gray wolf (Canis lupus), red fox
(Vulpes fulva), lynx (Lynx canadensis), and raven (Corvus corax) [1,10].
  • 1. Allen, Robert P. 1952. The whooping crane. New York: National Audubon Society. 246 p. [19680]
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5

Comments: Three populations currently exist (see Range Extent comments).

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Global Abundance

50 - 250 individuals

Comments: The total wild population in February 2006 was estimated at 338. Fewer than 250 are mature in the only self-sustaining population; for example, in 2005, 58 of the 72 known adult pairs in the Canadian population nested (Brian Johns, CWS, pers. comm.).

The February 2006 population included: 215 individuals in the only self-sustaining Aransas-Wood Buffalo National Park Population that nests in Wood Buffalo National Park and adjacent areas in Canada and winters in coastal marshes in Texas; 59 captive-raised individuals released in an effort to establish a non-migratory Florida Population in central Florida; and 64 individuals introduced between 2001 and 2005 that migrate between Wisconsin and Florida in an eastern migratory population. The last remaining wild bird in the reintroduced Rocky Mountain Population died in the spring, 2002. The captive population contained 135 birds in February, 2006, with annual production from the Calgary Zoo, International Crane Foundation, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Species Survival Center, and the San Antonio Zoo. The total population of wild and captive whooping cranes in February, 2006, was 473.

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General Ecology

Population has exhibited 10-year periodicity (Boyce and Miller 1985, Dennis et al. 1991).

Mated pairs and families establish and defend winter territories on coastal marshes in Texas. Breeding territories are very large, averaging 770 ha (Johnsgard 1991). Home ranges of breeding pairs in Canada were about 3-19 sq km (Kuyt 1993).

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Timing of Major Life History Events

More info for the term: selection

Courtship - Mate selection occurs on the wintering grounds or during
migration [11]. Whooping cranes are monogamous and normally pair for
life; they will remate following the death of a mate. Each pair returns
to the previous year's breeding territory but constructs a new nest
[7,11].

Migration - Whooping cranes generally arrive on the breeding grounds
during late April [10]. The southward migration begins anywhere from
mid-September to mid-October and normally all cranes are on their
wintering grounds by mid-November [4,10]. Occasional stragglers may
arrive in late December [10].

Age of first reproduction - Whooping cranes become sexually mature
between 4 and 6 years of age [3,7,11].

Egg laying and incubation - Whooping cranes generally lay two eggs, 2
days apart, in late April or early May. Both sexes incubate [7].
Incubation period is between 29 and 34 days [3,7,10,11].

Fledging - Whooping cranes fledge between 78 and 90 days [3]. Young
whooping cranes are fed by both parents for an extended time during
their first fall and winter of life and are not independent until they
are gradually adandoned by their parents the following spring [7].
Usually only one chick survives [11].

Life span - Whooping cranes live an average of 22 to 24 years [11].
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]
  • 11. Reel, Susan; Schassberger, Lisa; Ruediger, William, compilers. 1989. Caring for our national community: Region 1 - threatened, endangered & sensitive species program. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region. 309 p. [19675]
  • 3. Clark, Tim W.; Harvey, Ann H.; Dorn, Robert D.; [and others], eds. 1989. Rare, sensitive, and threatened species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Montana Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Mountain West Environmental Services. 153 p. [16007]
  • 4. Anon. 1992. Briefs - endangered whooping crane. Ecology USA. 21(21): 196. [19677]
  • 7. Johnsgard, Paul A. 1983. Cranes of the world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 257 p. [19678]

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Habitat-related Fire Effects

On the whooping cranes' upland wintering grounds, fires burn off dead
grasses, making acorns very easy to obtain. Fires on the cranes'
nesting grounds are generally caused by lightning during drought
conditions. These fires could destroy vegetation, making eggs and
chicks more susceptible to predation [10].
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

The key form of communication for whooping cranes is vocal communication. Many calls have been identified for this species including: contact calls, stress calls, distress calls, food-begging calls, flight-intention calls, alarm calls, hissing, flight calls, guard calls, location calls, precopulation calls, unison calls, and nesting calls. Territory defense is linked with the unison and guard calls. Unison calls are also important in pair formation. The calls of whooping cranes are important as they serve in deterring predators, warnings of attack, protecting and caring for the young, and locating other individuals within the species. Like all birds, whooping cranes perceive their environment through visual, auditory, tactile, and chemical stimuli.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: duets

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

The estimated longevity of wild whooping cranes is 22 to over 30 years. In captivity, the birds are expected to live up to 35 to 40 years old. The mortality of whooping cranes in their first year is approximately 27%. The survival rate of females for their first year is 55% the survival rate of males. Diseases, such as avian tuberculosis and avian cholera, are possible mortality causes for whooping cranes. A cause of mortality of some captive chicks has been intestinal coccidia parasites. Drought during the breeding season results in greater mortality of the young, since they have to travel farther for food resources and are at risk of attack by terrestrial predators.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
22 to 30 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
35 to 40 years.

  • Forrester, D., J. Carpenter, D. Blankinship. 1978. Coccidia of Whooping Cranes. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 14: 24-27.
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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 40 years (captivity) Observations: On average, these animals live little over 20 years (http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/). They have been estimated to live up to 22-30 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live up to 35-40 years and one 31 year-old male specimen could still reproduce (http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/).
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Reproduction

Whooping cranes are monogamous and form pairs around two or three years old. A pair bond develops through a variety of courtship behaviors including unison walks, unison calls, and courtship dances. Courtship usually begins with dancing, which starts with bowing, hopping, and wing flapping by one, and then both individuals. Each crane repeatedly leaps into the air on stiff legs, which continues until both individuals leap a few times in sync with each other. During the courtship dance the male may also jump over the female as she bows her head toward her body. Calling in unison is also important in pair maintenance and involves a duet between the female and male. The male has a lower call and positions the head straight up and behind vertical while the female is completely vertical or forward of vertical. Once one of the individuals begins the call the other joins in.

Once paired, whooping cranes breed seasonally and start nesting at approximately four years of age. Prior to copulation either individual begins walking slowly, with their bill pointed up, and neck forward and fully extended. This individual releases a low growl and the other individual walks with the same style behind the first and calling with its bill up toward the sky. Copulation commonly occurs at daybreak, however it can occur during any time in the day. Nesting pairs generally mate for life, but one will find a new mate following the death of the other.

Mating System: monogamous

Whooping cranes reproduce once a year from late April to May. Males and females participate in building a flat, ground nest usually on a mound of vegetation surrounded by water. In periods of drought, nesting sites can become no longer suitable for use. Typically two eggs are laid and the incubation period is 30 to 35 days. The sex ratio is nearly equal between the number of males and females hatched. The abandonment or loss of a nest is rare but breeding pairs can re-nest if either occurs within the first fifteen days of incubation. Fledging occurs between 80 to 100 days but the young remain with their parents until they reach independence at 9 months of age. Parents continue to feed and care for the fledgelings. Sexual maturity is reached between 4 and 5 years old.

Breeding interval: Whooping cranes breed once a year.

Breeding season: Whooping cranes breed from late April to May.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 3.

Range time to hatching: 30 to 35 days.

Average time to hatching: 30 days.

Range fledging age: 80 to 100 days.

Average time to independence: 9 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 to 5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Average birth mass: 212 g.

Average eggs per season: 2.

Both the male and female share equally in incubation responsibilities. The individual not incubating guards the nest from predators. Once hatched, young chicks are brooded by their parents at night or during bad weather. When a chick displays hunger, referred to as food begging, the parents provide them with food. The female provides the food more often than the male. The adult grasps the food in its bill and the chicks peck at the food. Food choices are initially worms and insects and grow is size as the chick develops. The young gradually start to feed independently. Food begging can be seen in young birds six to nine months old. The majority of juvenile birds completely leave their parents at the end of spring migration the following year.

Parental Investment: precocial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

  • Allen, R. 1952. The Whooping Crane: Research Report No. 3 of the National Audubon Society. New York, NY: National Audubon Society.
  • Hughes, J. 2008. Cranes: A Natural History of a Bird in Crisis. Richmond Hill: Firefly Books.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1983. Cranes of the World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Kuyt, E. 1980. Clutch size, Hatching Success, and Survival of Whooping Crane Chicks, Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. Crane Research Around the World, 1980: 126-129.
  • Lewis, J. 1995. Whooping Crane Grus americana. The Birds of North America, 153: 1-28.
  • Spalding, M., M. Folk, S. Nesbitt, M. Folk, R. Kiltie. 2009. Environmental Correlates of Reproductive Success for Introduced Resident whooping Cranes in Florida. Waterbirds, 32(4): 538-547.
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Breeding begins in early May. Pair mates for life. Both sexes, in turn, incubate 2, sometimes 1-3, eggs for 33-34 days. Nestlings are precocial. Young are tended by both adults, fledge when no less than 10 weeks old (no earlier than mid-August), remain with parents until following year (dissociate after arrival on breeding grounds). Sexually mature at 4-6 years.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Grus americana

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 5 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AATCGATGATTATTTTCAACTAACCACAAAGATATCGGAACCCTTTACCTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGTATAATTGGCACTGCTCTT---AGCCTGTTAATCCGCGCAGAACTTGGCCAACCAGGAAGCCTCTTAGGAGAT---GACCAAATCTACAATGTAATTGTCACCGCCCACGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTCATACCCATCATGATTGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGATTAGTCCCACTTATA---ATCGGTGCCCCCGACATAGCATTCCCACGCATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCTCCATCCTTCCTACTACTACTTGCCTCCTCCACAGTAGAGGCAGGAGCAGGTACAGGATGAACAGTCTACCCACCACTAGCTGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCTTCAGTAGACCTA---GCCATCTTCTCTCTTCACCTAGCAGGTGTATCCTCCATCCTAGGGGCAATCAATTTCATCACAACAGCCATCAACATAAAACCACCAGCCCTATCACAATACCAAACACCCTTATTCGTGTGATCCGTCCTAATTACCGCCGTCCTATTACTCCTCTCTCTCCCAGTCCTTGCTGCT---GGCATCACCATACTACTAACAGACCGAAACCTCAATACTACATTCTTCGACCCTGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCTGTCCTATATCAACATCTCTTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACCCAGAAGTTTACATCCTAATCCTCCCAGGTTTCGGAATCATCTCACACGTAGTAACCTACTACGCAGGTAAAAAA---GAACCATTTGGTTATATAGGAATAGTATGAGCCATACTATCTATTGGATTCCTAGGCTTCATCGTATGAGCCCACCATATATTCACAGTAGGAATAGACGTAGATACTCGAGCATACTTCACATCCGCCACCATAATCATTGCTATCCCAACTGGCATTAAAGTCTTTAGCTGATTA---GCTACACTACACGGAG
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Grus americana

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Whooping cranes have been the center of many conservation projects. Even though they are still endangered, they have recovered from levels of near extinction in the 1940's to 1950's. Whooping cranes had a total population of 21 in the winter of 1954 and had approximately 260 individuals in 2009. There are a number of ways in which recovery of whooping cranes has been promoted. This includes protection through laws such as, the United States Migratory Bird Act. There are also intense captive breeding and re-introduction efforts. In some cases eggs produced by captive pairs are cared for by human caretakers dressed as whooping cranes, also known as costume-rearing. These re-introduced birds have experienced problems with migration, and it is presumed that juvenile birds learn migration routes from their parents. To help these birds, small, white planes are used as "parent" birds that guide the juveniles on their first journey to their wintering grounds. These methods have had mixed success, but the population is increasing overall.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: appendix i

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

  • 2009. "Birds Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act" (On-line). Accessed October 11, 2010 at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/RegulationsPolicies/mbta/mbtandx.html#w.
  • Urbanek, R., L. Fondow, S. Zimorski, M. Wellington, M. Nipper. 2010. Winter release and management of reintroduced migratory Whooping Cranes Grus americana. Bird Conservation International, 20(1): 43-54.
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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
D

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Archibald, G., Cannon, J., Hook, J., Johns, B., Reid, M., Stehn, H. & Stehn, T.

Justification
This species is listed as Endangered because it has an extremely small population. However, the conservation status of the species is improving, with not only increases in the natural wild population but also establishment of two reintroduced flocks that may become self-sustaining. If the number of mature individuals continues to increase, this species may merit downlisting to Vulnerable.

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N1B - Critically Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1N - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled

Reasons: One self-sustaining population nests in Canada, winters primarily along the Texas coast; two additional reintroduced populations (one migrates Wisconsin-Florida, one nonmigratory in Florida); historically much more widespread; total wild population in 2006 was 338; with about 135 in captive flocks; numbers increasing; problems include habitat degradation, low productivity associated with drought, and mortality from collisions with powerlines along lengthy migratory route.

Other Considerations: High mortality during vulnerable migratory period.

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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 03/11/1967
Lead Region:   Southwest Region (Region 2)   
Where Listed: except where EXPN

Status: Experimental Population, Non-Essential
Date Listed: 01/22/1993
Lead Region:   Southeast Region (Region 4)   
Where Listed: U.S.A. (CO, ID, FL, NM, UT, and the western half of Wyoming)

Status: Experimental Population, Non-Essential
Date Listed: 02/03/2011
Lead Region:   Southeast Region (Region 4)   
Where Listed: U.S.A (Southwestern Louisiana)

Status: Experimental Population, Non-Essential
Date Listed: 06/26/2001
Lead Region:   Southwest Region (Region 2)   
Where Listed: U.S.A.(AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NC, OH, SC, TN, VA, WI, WV)


Population detail:

Population location: U.S.A (Southwestern Louisiana)
Listing status: EXPN

Population location: U.S.A.(AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NC, OH, SC, TN, VA, WI, WV)
Listing status: EXPN

Population location: U.S.A. (CO, ID, FL, NM, UT, and the western half of Wyoming)
Listing status: EXPN

Population location: Entire, except where listed as an experimental population
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Grus americana , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the
United States and Canada is available at NatureServe.

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U.S. Federal Legal Status

Endangered [20]

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1). Listed on Appendix I of CITES (3), and Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (4).
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Population

Population
The total population in the wild numbers 382 individuals (T. Stehn in litt. 2007). However, the only self-sustaining population breeding in Northwest Territories/Alberta, Canada and wintering in Texas, USA numbers 266 individuals, fewer than 250 of which are mature. Hence we retain a precautionary estimate of 50-249 mature individuals. This equates to 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Global Short Term Trend: Increase of 10 to >25%

Comments: Wild population increased from a few dozen to a few hundred over the past three generations (generation time = 13 years; Gil de Weir 2006).

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of >90%

Comments: Historically, population size may have been as high as 10,000 (see CWS and USFWS 2007). A low point came in the mid-1900s when there were fewer than 50 whooping cranes in North America prior to 1968, with an all-time low of 21 as recently as 1954 (CWS and USFWS 2007). With management the total wild population is now a few hundred. Annual growth of the population during the past 65 years has averaged 4.5% per year (CWS and USFWS 2007).

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Threats

Major Threats
Over-hunting, habitat conversion and human disturbance were the main causes of the species's decline. Currently, the most significant known cause of death or injury to fledglings is collision with powerlines (Lewis 1997). Powerline markers can reduce collisions by 50-80% (T Stehn and T. Wassenich in press), but most powerlines remain unmarked and collision is a major and growing problem (Lewis 1997). The anticipated placement of thousands of wind turbines in the migration corridor will decrease availability of crane stopover habitat and may also dramatically increase the number of powerlines (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007). In 2007, a lightning strike during severe weather killed 17 captive-bred young birds being housed in a top-netted release pen in Florida (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007). Eggs and pre-fledged chicks are subject to predation by various birds and mammals including raven, bald eagle, wolf, black bear and lynx (CWS and USFWS 2007). Drought is a serious threat to the species as it is detrimental to all habitats utilized year around, but is especially harmful by dramatically decreasing production on the nesting grounds (RENEW report 1999). In early 2009, a prolonged drought and reduced water inflow to coastal wetlands led to a reduction in availability of blue crabs Callinectes sapidus and wolfberries Lycium spp. (important food items), causing Whooping Crane mortality rates to double (Archibold 2009). Coastal development, sea level rise, climate change, chemical spills, reduced fresh water inflows, and human disturbance threaten the Texan wintering grounds (RENEW report 1999, CWS and USFWS 2007). Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) can only support a maximum of 500 birds through the winter (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007) and falls short of the initial downlisting target of 1,000 birds. Continued population growth may force some cranes in future to use disturbed and suboptimal habitat (M. Reid. in litt. 2003). Much of the currently unoccupied crane habitat at Aransas where the cranes would be expected to expand into is being threatened with construction of houses (T. Stehn, in litt. 2007). There are currently concerns about oil spills and river inflows to Aransas NWR (CWS and USFWS 2007), as well as reduced water flows in the central Platte River Ralley, Nebraska, a key stopover site for migrating Whooping Cranes (Chavez-Ramirez 2008). The spread of West Nile virus and avian influenza in the future may pose a threat to the species (Chu et al. 2003). The long-term effects of genetic drift after a severe population bottleneck are unknown (Glenn et al. 1999) There have been incidences of illegal shooting of the species in Alabama and Indiana (MacKenzie 2011, Shaw 2011).

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Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: Historically, population declines were caused by shooting and destruction of nesting habitat in the prairies from agricultural development. The species was listed as endangered because of low population numbers, slow reproductive potential (sexual maturity is delayed and pairs average less than 1 chick annually), cyclic nesting and wintering habitat suitability, a hazardous 4,000 km migration route that is traversed twice annually, and many human pressures on the wintering grounds. Current threats to wild cranes include collisions with manmade objects such as power lines and fences, accidental shooting, predators (especially predation of flightless chicks), disease (avian tuberculosis has been documented in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population, and both West Nile virus and H5N1 avian influenza virus are emerging new threats of unknown proportion to both captive and wild populations), habitat destruction and contamination, severe weather, and a loss of two-thirds of the original genetic material. Threats to the captive flock include disease, accidents, and limited genetic material. [Source: CWS and USFWS 2007]

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The original decline in whooping crane numbers followed the drainage and clearing of wetlands, together with other human disturbances in the breeding areas and migration routes (10). Shooting for food by early settlers and specimen collection for museums and egg collectors wreaked havoc on the remaining population. Today, cranes remain at risk from human development (10); collisions with power-lines are now a serious cause of mortality (6). Moreover, the single population is at risk from any chance event and conservationists are particularly fearful of a chemical spill in the Gulf of Mexico that would destroy the wintering grounds in Texas (6).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. CMS Appendix II. There is an international recovery plan (CWS and USFWS 2007) focusing on increasing the size of the natural flock, establishing additional wild populations through experimental releases, teaching captive-bred birds to migrate (Lewis 1995, Line 1995, RENEW report 1999), and increasing the captive population for experimental releases and ecological research (e.g. habitat selection). Considerable progress has been made in improving the genetic health of captive stock and in breeding under-represented genetic strains, but delayed reproduction in captivity and the failure of some pairs to breed at all has slowed down progress (Putman 2007). In the past, recruitment was increased in certain years in Canada by removal of a single egg from two-egg broods (Boyce et al. 2005); the removed eggs are used to supplement captive flocks, but the overall impact of the egg pickup program is largely undetermined (CWS and USFWS 2007). An eastern migratory population which mostly winters in Florida and summers in Wisconsin has now been established but only two instances of successful breeding has been recorded so far (J.Hook in litt. 2007, Garland and Peterson 2009). If passed, the Crane Conservation Act (H.R. 1771 and S. 1048) would allocate $5 million per year over five years to be spent on crane conservation efforts world-wide, with strict limitations on the amount going to help Whooping Cranes. Due to the loss of 17 captive-bred cranes in a severe storm in 2007, the ultralight-led juveniles from Necedah NWR are now split into two wintering groups, with half spending the winter at Chassahowitzka NWR and half at the St. Marks NWR along Florida's Gulf Coast.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey and monitor breeding grounds to determine nesting effort (RENEW report 1999), and the wintering grounds to determine flock size. Research food resources and high mortality (RENEW report 1999). Alleviate threats in Texas. Reduce powerline collisions. Continue establishment of two further self-sustaining populations (Meine and Archibald 1996, RENEW report 1999). Continue raising cranes for reintroduction (RENEW report 1999).

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Restoration Potential: See Recovery Plan (CWS and USFWS 2007).

Management Requirements: See Recovery Plan (CWS and USFWS 2007).

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Global Protection: Few (1-3) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Virtually all significant occurrences are in national wildlife refuges, national parks, or declared critical habitats for this species.

Needs: Most EOs already are protected. Could extend winter refuge boundaries in Aransas N.W.R. to include Mustard Lake.

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Use of Fire in Population Management

Whooping cranes are attracted to burned uplands on their wintering
grounds. Here, low-severity prescribed fires can be used to burn off
dead grasses around stands of oak (Quercus spp.) brush [1,10]. When
burning areas for the benefit of whooping cranes, plots should be burned
in late winter when food supply is low. During an emergency, such as an
oil spill on their wintering grounds, fires can be used to attract
whooping cranes away from contaminated areas. On the whooping cranes'
breeding grounds, fire is suppressed because of its threat to chicks and
molting adults [10].
  • 1. Allen, Robert P. 1952. The whooping crane. New York: National Audubon Society. 246 p. [19680]
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]

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Management Considerations

Whooping cranes can tolerate very little human disturbance, especially
during nesting, brood rearing, and during flightless molt (May to
mid-August). Slight human disturbance is often sufficient to cause
adults to desert nests [3]. On wintering grounds, whooping cranes will
tolerate human disturbance if it is not associated with obvious threats
[10].

Potential hazards to whooping cranes increase as human use of crane
habitat increases. Barges carrying chemicals occupy the Gulf
Intracoastal Waterway through the whooping cranes' wintering habitat
every day. A spill or leak of these chemicals could contaminate the
cranes' food supply, or poison or injure the cranes directly.
Additionally, numerous oil and gas wells and connecting pipelines are
located in the bays surrounding the cranes' habitat. Commercial fishing
activities with nets is another potential hazard to whooping cranes
[10].

Some causes of whooping crane mortality are illegal shooting, powerline
collisions, collisions or entangelment in barbed wire fences, and
diseases, especially avian tuberculosis and coccidia [3,10]. Fecal
accumulations and concentrations of coccidia oocysts at breeding sites
on the nesting grounds may infect whooping crane chicks. When planning
new powerline construction, wetlands and immediate adjacent areas
frequented by whooping cranes should be avoided [3].

Cross-fostering using greater sandhill cranes at Grays Lake National
Wildlife Refuge, in southeastern Idaho, began in 1975. Whooping crane
eggs from the wild or from captive breeders are placed in greater
sandhill crane nests, and the sandhill cranes incubate, hatch, and rear
whooping crane chicks [10,12]. To date no whooping cranes
cross-fostered by sandhill cranes have successfully paired and nested
[3].
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]
  • 12. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 1981. Endangered means there's still time. Washington, DC. 32 p. [19676]
  • 3. Clark, Tim W.; Harvey, Ann H.; Dorn, Robert D.; [and others], eds. 1989. Rare, sensitive, and threatened species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Montana Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Mountain West Environmental Services. 153 p. [16007]

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Conservation

The whooping crane has been the subject of an enormous, broad-based conservation effort since the mid-20th Century, involving the United States and Canadian Wildlife Services, together with other organizations such as the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the International Crane Foundation (7). The multi-faceted approach has involved the protection of important habitats, the monitoring of populations and a captive breeding program. The establishment of an additional migratory population was attempted in Idaho but has not proven successful (10). However, greater progress has been achieved with the setting up of a non-migratory population in Florida, which now numbers 86 individuals (11). Another attempt at establishing a migratory population was begun in 2001, with birds being taught a migration route from Wisconsin to Florida behind ultra-light aircraft (9). The main captive populations exist at Patuxent Wildlife Research Centre, the International Crane Foundation and Calgary Zoo and have been used in these reintroduction attempts (10). These efforts have increased the wild population of these elegant birds from just 21 in the 1940s to about 300 today, a truly fantastic achievement (11).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no adverse effects of whooping cranes on humans.

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Whooping cranes serve as an important model for the positive effects of wildlife conservation and management. It is a valuable symbol of conservation and international co-operation between governments for many people. Thousands of people visit the wintering site, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, each year in order to see whooping cranes.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: The wild whooping crane population is characterized by low numbers, slow reproductive potential, and limited genetic diversity. A stochastic, catastrophic event could eliminate the wild, self-sustaining Aransas-Wood Buffalo population (AWBP). Therefore, the recovery strategy involves: protection and enhancement of the breeding, migration, and wintering habitat for the AWBP to allow the wild flock to grow and reach ecological and genetic stability; reintroduction and establishment of self-sustaining wild flocks within the species' historic range and that are geographically separate from the AWBP to ensure resilience to catastrophic events; and maintenance of a captive breeding flock to protect against extinction. Offspring from the captive breeding population will be released into the wild to establish these populations. Production by released birds and their offspring will ultimately result in selfsustaining wild populations. The continued growth of the AWBP, establishment of additional populations, and maintenance of the captive flock will also address the loss of genetic diversity. [Source: CWS and USFWS 2007]

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Wikipedia

Whooping crane

The whooping crane (Grus americana), the tallest North American bird, is an endangered crane species named for its whooping sound. In 2003, there were about 153 pairs of whooping cranes. Along with the sandhill crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America. The whooping crane's lifespan is estimated to be 22 to 24 years in the wild. After being pushed to the brink of extinction by unregulated hunting and loss of habitat to just 21 wild and two captive whooping cranes by 1941, conservation efforts have led to a limited recovery. As of 2011, there are an estimated 437 birds in the wild and more than 165 in captivity.[2][3]

Description[edit]

An adult whooping crane is white with a red crown and a long, dark, pointed bill. Immature whooping cranes are cinnamon brown. While in flight, their long necks are kept straight and their long dark legs trail behind. Adult whooping cranes' black wing tips are visible during flight.

Whooping crane in flight

The species can stand up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) and have a wingspan of 2.3 meters (7.5 feet). Males weigh on average 7.3 kg (16 lb), while females weigh 6.2 kg (14 lb) on average (Erickson, 1976).[4] The body length averages about 132 cm (52 in).[5] The standard linear measurements of the whooping cranes are a wing chord length of 53–63 cm (21–25 in), an exposed culmen length of 11.7–16 cm (4.6–6.3 in) and a tarsus of 26–31 cm (10–12 in).[6] The only other very large, long-legged white birds in North America are: the Great Egret, which is over a foot shorter and one-seventh the weight of this crane; the Great White Heron, which is a morph of the Great Blue Heron in Florida; and the Wood Stork. All three other birds are at least 30% smaller than the whooping crane. Herons and storks are also quite different in structure from the crane.[7]

Their calls are loud and can carry several kilometers. They express "guard calls" for warning their partner about any potential danger. The crane pair will jointly call ("unison call") in a very rhythmic and impressive way after waking in the early morning, after courtship and when defending their territory. The first unison call ever recorded in the wild was taken in the whooping cranes' wintering area of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge during December 1999 and is documented here [8]

Habitat[edit]

Whooping cranes breed in marshes.

The muskeg of the taiga in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta, Canada, and the surrounding area was the last remnant of the former nesting habitat of the Whooping Crane Summer Range. However, with the recent Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Reintroduction Project, whooping cranes nested naturally for the first time in 100 years in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin, USA. They nest on the ground, usually on a raised area in a marsh. The female lays 1 or 2 eggs, usually in late-April to mid-May. The blotchy, olive-colored eggs average 2½ inches in breadth and 4 inches in length (60 by 100 mm), and weigh about 6.7 oz (190 g). The incubation period is 29–31 days. Both parents brood the young, although the female is more likely to directly tend to the young. Usually no more than one young bird survives in a season. The parents often feed the young for 6–8 months after birth and the terminus of the offspring-parent relationship occurs after about 1 year.[citation needed]

Breeding populations winter along the Gulf coast of Texas, USA, near Rockport on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and along Sunset Lake in Portland, Matagorda Island, Isla San Jose, and portions of the Lamar Peninsula and Welder Point, which is on the east side of San Antonio Bay.[9]

The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma is a major migratory stopover for the crane population hosting over 75% of the species annually.[10][11]

Six whooping crane wintered on Granger Lake in Central TX in 2011/2012. The group was made up of two mated pairs and their single offspring. One adult bird flew ahead to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge early in the season, but returned again to rejoin its mate and offspring. Drought conditions in 2011 exposed much of the lake bed, creating ample feeding grounds for this small group of cranes.[citation needed]

The whooping crane is endangered mainly as a result of habitat loss, although whoopers are also still illegally shot despite this being subject to substantial financial penalties and possible prison time.[12][13][14]

At one time, the range for these birds extended throughout midwestern North America. In 1941, the wild population consisted of 21 birds. Conservation efforts have led to a population increase; as of April 2007 there were about 340 whooping cranes living in the wild, and another 145 living in captivity. The whooping crane is still one of the rarest birds in North America. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that 266 whooping cranes made the migration to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in 2007.[15]

Predators[edit]

At Calgary Zoo, Alberta, Canada

Among the many potential nest and brood predators include American black bear (Ursus americanus), wolverine (Gulo gulo), gray wolf (Canis lupus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), lynx (Lynx canadensis), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and common raven (Corvus corax). Golden eagles have killed young whooping cranes and fledgings.[16] The bobcat has killed many whooping cranes in Florida and Texas.[7] In Florida, bobcats have caused the great majority of mortalities among whooping cranes, including several adults and the first chick documented to be born in the wild in 60 years.[17][18][19][20][21][22] Patuxent Wildlife Research Center scientists believe that this is due to an overpopulation of bobcats caused by the absence or decrease in larger predators (the endangered Florida panther and the extirpated red wolf) that formerly preyed on bobcats.[18] At least 12 bobcats have been trapped and relocated in an attempt to save the cranes.[23] American alligators have taken a few whooping cranes in Florida.[18]

Diet[edit]

These birds forage while walking in shallow water or in fields, sometimes probing with their bills. They are omnivorous and more inclined to animal material than most other cranes. In their Texas wintering grounds, this species feeds on various crustaceans, mollusks, fish (such as eel), berries, small reptiles and aquatic plants. Potential foods of breeding birds in summer include frogs, small rodents, smaller birds, fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, clams, snails, aquatic tubers, and berries. Six studies from 1946 to 2005 have reported that blue crabs are a significant food source[24] for whooping cranes wintering at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, constituting up to 90 percent of their energy intake in two winters; 1992–93 and 1993-94.

Waste grain, including wheat, barley, and corn, is an important food for migrating Whooping Cranes,[7] but whooping cranes don't swallow gizzard stones and digest grains less efficiently than sandhill cranes.

Individual recognition, territorial and partnership fidelity[edit]

While in earlier years, whooping crane chicks had been caught and banded (in the breeding areas of Wood Buffalo National Park), and it has delivered valuable insight into individual life history and behaviour of the cranes, this technique has been abandoned due to imminent danger for the cranes and the people performing the catching and banding activities.

By recording guard and unison calls followed by frequency analysis of the recording, a "voiceprint" of the individual crane (and of pairs) can be generated and compared over time. This technique was developed by B. Wessling and applied in the wintering refuge in Aransas and also partially in the breeding grounds in Canada over 5 years.[25] It delivered interesting results, i.e. that besides a certain fraction of stable pairs with strong affinity to their territories, there is a big fraction of cranes who change partners and territories.[26] Only one of the exciting results was to identify the "Lobstick" male when he still had his band; he later lost his band and was recognized by frequency analysis of his voice and then was confirmed to be over 26 years old, and still productive.

Conservation efforts[edit]

Young whooping cranes completing their first migration, from Wisconsin to Florida, in January 2009, following an ultralight aircraft. This procedure is carried out by Operation Migration.

The whooping crane was declared endangered in 1967. Although believed to be naturally rare, the crane has suffered major population deprivations due to habitat destruction and over-hunting. The population has gone from an estimated 10,000+ birds before the settling of Europeans on the continent to 1,300-1,400 birds by 1870 to 15 adults by 1938. The current population is approximately 382.[1]

During the past two years, five of the approximately 100 whooping cranes in the Eastern population have been illegally shot and killed. One of the dead cranes was the female known as "First Mom". In 2006, she and her mate were the first eastern captive raised and released Whoopers to successfully raise a chick to adulthood in the wild. This was a particular blow to that population because whoopers in the East do not yet have an established successful breeding situation. On March 30, 2011, Wade Bennett, 18, of Cayuga, Indiana and an unnamed juvenile pled guilty to killing First Mom. After killing the crane, the juvenile had posed holding up its body. Bennett and the juvenile were sentenced to a $1 fine, probation, and court fees of about $500, a penalty which was denounced by various conservation organizations as being too light. The prosecuting attorney has estimated that the cost of raising and introducing to the wild one whooping crane could be as much as $100,000.[27][28][29][30]

In October 2011, two juveniles were apprehended for shooting to death two of the first ten whooping cranes in an experimental Jefferson Davis parish, Louisiana, non-migratory population.[31]

On the other hand, attempts have been made to establish other breeding populations in captivity.

  • One project by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service was initiated in 1975 involved cross-fostering with sandhill cranes to establish a second self-sustaining flock. Although 85 chicks from the 289 whooping crane eggs transplanted into sandhill crane nests learned to migrate,[32] the whooping cranes failed to mate with other whooping cranes due to imprinting on their sandhill foster parents; the project was discontinued in 1989.[33] No members of this population survive.[34] This effort and the problem of imprinting is explored in the 1976 documentary A Great White Bird.[35]
  • A second involved the establishment of a non-migratory population near Kissimmee, Florida by a cooperative effort led by the U.S. and Canadian Whooping Crane Recovery Team in 1993.[36] As of December 18, 2006, this population numbered about 53 birds,[37] but a decision was made not to introduce further birds into this population until problems with high mortality and lack of reproduction are resolved, and as of May 2011, the population had shrunk to 20 cranes.[38]
  • A third attempt has involved reintroducing the whooping crane to a new flyway established east of the Mississippi river. This project uses isolation rearing of young whooping cranes and trains them to follow ultralight aircraft, a method of re-establishing migration routes pioneered by Bill Lishman and Joe Duff when they led Canada Geese in migration from Ontario, Canada, to Virginia and South Carolina in 1993.[39] The non-profit organization which is responsible for the ultralight migrations is Operation Migration,[40] and the larger group, WCEP (the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership), oversees all aspects of the Eastern Introduced Flock. They are now also releasing fledged cranes directly into the established population, to learn the migratory behavior from their peers (Direct Autumn Release). One whooping crane from the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) has been the recipient of special attention from conservationists for several years. This crane was given the name "Number 16-05" because he was the sixteenth whooping crane to be tracked and tagged in 2005. That year, #16-05 collided with an ultralight plane, and because of an injury resulting from this collision, he missed the autumn portion of that year's northern migration. He also had difficulty flying during his juvenile winter, however, he exhibited no flying impairment during the spring migration.[41]
In 1957, the whooping crane was featured on a U.S. postage stamp supporting wildlife conservation.
Subsequent to hatching, the Operation Migration cranes are taught to follow their ultralight aircraft, fledged over their future breeding territory in Wisconsin, and led by ultralight on their first migration from Wisconsin to Florida; the birds learn the migratory route and then return, on their own, the following spring. This reintroduction began in fall 2001 and has added birds to the population in each subsequent year (Except that in early 2007, a disastrous storm killed all of the 2006 yearlings after their arrival in Florida.).[citation needed]
As of May, 2011, there were 105 surviving whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP), including seventeen that had formed pairs, several of which are nesting and are incubating eggs.[38] Two whooping crane chicks were hatched from one nest, on June 22, 2006. Their parents are both birds that were hatched and led by ultralight on their first migration in 2002. The chicks are the first whooping cranes hatched in the wild, of migrating parents, east of the Mississippi, in over 100 years. One of these young chicks was unfortunately predated on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. The other young chick, a female, has successfully migrated with her parents to Florida. As noted above, in early February, 2007, 17 yearlings in a group of 18 were killed by the 2007 Central Florida tornadoes. All birds in that flock were believed to have died in the storms, but then a signal from one of the transmitters, "Number 15-06", indicated that it had survived. The bird was subsequently relocated in the company of some sandhill cranes. It died in late April from an as yet unknown cause, possibly related to the storm trauma. Two of the 4 DAR Whooper chicks from 2006 were also lost due to predation.[42][43] However, as of December, 2010, 105 birds had become established in the eastern United States population.[44]
In December 2011, the Operation Migration escorting of nine cranes was interrupted by the Federal Aviation Administration due to a regulation prohibiting paid pilots of ultralight aircraft. After a month with the cranes kept in a pen, the FAA finally granted a one-time exemption to allow completion of the migration.[45]
  • Due to the vulnerability of the Florida non-migratory population, an attempt is being made to establish a second non-migratory population in Louisiana's White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area.[34] In March 2011, 10 cranes were released, but all but three had been lost by the time a second group of 16 were released in December.[46] The second group had 12 survive their first year, and along with two remaining survivors from the first cohort, were joined by a third cohort of 14 released in December 2012.[47] As of November 2013, with the release of an additional group of 11 birds expected, there were 23 survivors of previous releases,[48] some of which had been spotted as far as Wise County, Texas, west of Dallas. This is a cooperative effort of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Geological Survey, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at LSU, and the International Crane Foundation.

In Wood Buffalo National Park, the Canadian Wildlife Service counted 73 mating pairs in 2007. They produced 80 chicks, of which 40 survived to the fall migration, and 39 completed the migration to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.[15] In May 2011, there were 78 mating pairs and 279 total birds.[38]

In 2013 during continuing drought conditions, a federal judge ordered Texas officials to allocate some water supplies to what is believed to be the world's last wild flock of endangered whooping cranes.[49]

The cranes winter in marshy areas along the Gulf Coast including the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. An environmental group, The Aransas Project, has sued the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), maintaining that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to ensure adequate water supplies for the birds’ nesting areas. The group attributes the deaths of nearly two dozen whooping cranes in the winter of 2008 and 2009 to inadequate flows from the San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers.[50]

In March 2013, a federal court ordered TCEQ to develop a habitat protection plan for the crane and to cease issuing permits for waters from the San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers. A judge amended the ruling to allow TCEQ to continue issuing permits necessary to protect the public’s health and safety. An appeals court eventually granted a stay in the order during the appeals process.[51]

The Guadalupe-Blanco and San Antonio river authorities have joined TCEQ in the lawsuit, and warn that restricting the use of their waters would have serious effects on the cities of New Braunfels and San Marcos as well as major industrial users along the coast. [52]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Grus americana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Whooping Crane Status and Fact Sheet, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved on: February 03, 2008
  3. ^ Dennis Sherer (2012-02-03). "Whooping cranes looking for home after assisted migration stops". TimesDaily.com (Florence, Alabama). Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  4. ^ "Whooping Crane (Grus americana)". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  5. ^ http://www.nebraskabirdlibrary.org/index.php/gruiformes/gruidae/whooping-crane.html
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b c http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/153/articles/introduction
  8. ^ http://www.craneworld.de/deutsch/bildundton/rufe/schreiduett.html
  9. ^ Tesky, Julie (1993). "Grus americana". Fire Effects Information System. USDA Forest Service. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  10. ^ "NPS NNL description of Salt Plains". National Park Service. 
  11. ^ "Species Status and Fact Sheet: WHOOPING CRANE". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
  12. ^ "Endangered whooping cranes shot dead" CNN, 12 Jan 2011
  13. ^ "Endangered Whooping Crane shot to death in Ala." "WSFA", 10 Feb 2011
  14. ^ "Endangered whooping crane shot and killed" "Animal Planet", 14 Dec 2009 [2]
  15. ^ a b Unrau, Jason (2007-12-17). "Whooping cranes sighted in record numbers". Toronto: Canadian Press. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  16. ^ http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/153/articles/behavior
  17. ^ http://www.deseretnews.com/article/762981/Whooping-crane-chick---becomes-bobcat-victim.html
  18. ^ a b c http://whoopers.usgs.gov/report4.htm
  19. ^ http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/media/2001/nr-12-18-01.html
  20. ^ http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/media/2002/nr-1-23-02.html
  21. ^ http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1993-02-25/news/9302250127_1_whooping-cranes-osceola-native-to-florida
  22. ^ Long, Jeff (2001-12-20). "Whooping crane flock loses 2nd member". Chicago Tribune. 
  23. ^ http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1993-07-16/news/9307160675_1_whooping-cranes-endangered-birds-bobcats
  24. ^ https://birdsnews.com/2013/whooping-crane-migration-heightens-endangered-species-charisma/#.UnpfSBBjLdk
  25. ^ http://www.craneworld.de/deutsch/resume/resume03.html
  26. ^ http://www.craneworld.de/pdf/schreikraniche/wildepopulation/vortrag.pdf
  27. ^ "Citizen Tip Leads to Closure of Whooping Crane Shooting in Indiana" "U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News", 18 Apr 2011 [3]
  28. ^ "Operation Migration Field Journal, entry All for a Buck", 29 Apr 2011
  29. ^ "What Price Do We Put on an Endangered Bird?" "Smithsonian", 26 Apr 2011 [4]
  30. ^ "STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO THE PROSECUTION AND CONVICTION OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN THE DEATH OF A WHOOPING CRANE ON DECEMBER 1, 2009" "Vermilion Country Government"[5]
  31. ^ "Two whooping cranes found dead in Jefferson Davis Parish" "KPLC", 11 Oct 2011 [6]
  32. ^ [7]
  33. ^ [8]
  34. ^ a b http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/faq Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, State of Louisiana FAQ: Whooping Crane Reintroduction in Louisiana
  35. ^ A Great White Bird, National Film Board of Canada
  36. ^ [9]
  37. ^ [10]
  38. ^ a b c [11]
  39. ^ Florida Whooping Crane Non-Migratory Flock (Synopsis)
  40. ^ Crane Migration Operation Migration.
  41. ^ [12]
  42. ^ "Single Whooping Crane survives Florida tornadoes". BirdLife International. 2007-06-02. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  43. ^ "Field Journal". Operation Migration Inc. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  44. ^ Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership December 2010 Project Update (Report). Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. 2010-12. http://bringbackthecranes.org/history/updates/2010/wcepupdate2010Dec.html. Retrieved 2011-05-09.
  45. ^ Whooping cranes are cleared for takeoff after getting FAA exemption - CNN January 10, 2012 - accessed July 8, 2013.
  46. ^ http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Hope-remains-despite-deadly-year-for-whooping-2449601.php Mathew Tresaugue, "Hope remains despite deadly year for whooping cranes in Louisiana"
  47. ^ http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/news/36194 Third Cohort of Whooping Cranes Released at White Lake WCA; http://www.wlf.la.gov/blog-post/major-milestone A Major Milestone
  48. ^ http://theadvocate.com/news/7574821-123/endangered-whooping-cranes-find-refuge Endangered whooping cranes find refuge in Vermilion
  49. ^ Texas Is Ordered to Supply Water to Crane Habitat March 12, 2013 Wall Street Journal
  50. ^ Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved February 10, 2014
  51. ^ Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved February 10, 2014
  52. ^ Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved February 10, 2014
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Based on DNA data, Grus grus, G. americana, G. monachus, and G. nigricollis form a monophyletic lineage apart from G. japonicus (Krajewski and Fetzner 1994), and the closest living relative of G. americana may be G. grus (Love and Deininger 1992).

Grus americana exhibits low mtDNA diversity; may have a single mtDNA haplotype (Snowbank and Krajewski 1995).

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Common Names

whooping crane
whooper
big white crane
flying sheep
Grue blanche
stork
white crane

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The currently accepted scientific name for the whooping crane is Grus
americana (Linnaeus). There are no subspecies [7,10,11,13].
  • 10. Olsen, David L,; Derrickson, Scott R. 1980. Whooping crane recovery plan. Washington D. C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 206 p. [21184]
  • 11. Reel, Susan; Schassberger, Lisa; Ruediger, William, compilers. 1989. Caring for our national community: Region 1 - threatened, endangered & sensitive species program. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region. 309 p. [19675]
  • 13. Donohoe, Robert W. 1974. American hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana Walt. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., eds. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 86-88. [13714]
  • 7. Johnsgard, Paul A. 1983. Cranes of the world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 257 p. [19678]

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