Whooping Crane (Grus americana)

Whooping Crane
(Grus americana)
By: Aaron Sluss
Morphological Characteristics
• Tall bird- nearly 5 feet
• Adults white with red patch on
• Long white neck
• Dark legs, dark pointed bill, and
black facial markings.
• In flight, black wingtips are visible
• Inner wing feathers droop over
the rump, called a" bustle” which
distinguishes cranes from herons
• Sexes alike
Other Characteristics
• Adults weigh between 12 and 15 pounds
• Wing span of nearly 8 feet
• Life Span of 22-24 yrs (wild)
• Gets its name from its
loud bugle-like trumpeting call
ker-loo ker-lee-loo
• http://www.learner.org/jnorth/search/CraneNotes
• Heard from 2 miles
• Long trachea which coils twice
Inside the breast bone
• Whoopers use a variety of habitats for
different times in the year.
• Breeding: mixed forest and wetlands
• Migration: croplands, marshes, and
submerged sandbars.
• Winter: bays and coastal marshes
Feeding Characteristics
• Wetlands: feed on clams, insects, fish,
frogs, crabs, and crayfish
• Uplands: feed on insects, snails, small
rodents, and acorns
Start pairing on wintering grounds
Don’t start breeding until 4 or 5 years
breed in the large marshes adjacent to the
Sass, Klewi, Nyarling and Little Buffalo
• each pair establishes a territory
of 1.5 square miles.
• Did not know where they nested for years.
• Usually nest once, but will nest again if nest is
destroyed. May even skip a year.
• Nests can be floating or built up from the bottom
of the pond.
• Nests are usually built of bullrush, sedge or
• Clutch size: 2-with one surviving
• Incubation: 1 month. Duties shared by parents
• Varies greatly from year to year
• Low as 12% to highs around 78%
• Average of about 45 per cent
Factors that affect recruitment
• the number of pairs actually nesting
• the number of viable eggs produced
• weather conditions at time of hatching and
during the ensuing weeks
• habitat conditions (water levels)
• abundance of food
• Predators (bobcats) (eagles)
• Cinnamon and white colored
• young remain with their parents for the
• Parents feed them larval, or inactive,
forms of insects such as dragonflies,
damselflies, and also snails, clams,
leeches, and small fish.
• able to fly at about 90 days of age
• Usually in groups of less than 10.
• Make a 2600 mile trip from Wood Buffalo
National Park in Canada to the Aransas National
Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
• Starts trip in late September and arrives in mid
to late October to mid November
• Special flying method: uses an energy-efficient
combination of spiraling and gliding that allows it
to fly nonstop for incredible distances (up to 450
What Happened to the Whooper?
Not that many to begin with.
Are susceptible to many factors during
migration. (Diseases, weather, and drought)
Delayed breeding maturity
 Two main factors that caused rapid decline:
1) man-made changes of habitat (esp. wetland losses)
2) hunting, and feather and egg collecting.
Recovery of the Whooper
• Migratory Bird treaty Act of 1918
• Wood Buffalo National Park est. in 1922
• In 1937, the Aransas National Wildlife
Refuge established.
Listed as a Threatened and Endangered
species in 1973.
Recovery Cont..
• Captive Breeding
• Difficult to do because of their sensitivity to
humans. (Imprinting)
• http://whoopers.usgs.gov/videos2.htm
• Remove the “extra egg”.
• Artificial insemination
• Foster parents
Flocks of the Past VS Today's
• Estimated that in
1870 there were
around 500-1400
• Went to a low of 1520 in 1941
• As of 2000 282 in wild
and 106 in captivity
• More pandas than
What must be done to continue
the success
• Establishment of another migratory flock
• Support of the Canadian public for the
management of whooper nests and eggs
• Publicity and hunter education
Preservation of wetlands along the cranes’
migration route
Any Questions??