Whooping Cranes

Written By: Sarah Jesberger
Researched By: Sarah Jesberger and
Chelsey Ferron


Whooping Cranes are the rarest of all the birds in North America. They are nicknamed "Whoopers" for their loud call.

Naturalists believe that the destruction of their habitat is the main reason for their decline. These birds were protected by law in 1916, but, they continued to decrease.

They are the tallest birds in North America, standing tall at 5 feet (1.5 meters) and they have very long skinny legs and a long neck. They are white with black tipped wings and a bare red spot on their heads, however, if they are less than one year old they are a rusty-red colour.

Wild Whooping Cranes breed in marshy areas of the Northwest Territories. Their nests consist of grasses. Out of the two eggs the female Whooper lays, usually only one chick survives.

These animals migrate 2500 miles (4000km) to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas for the winter. Their winter diet consists of clams, crabs, and crayfish, however, scientists are almost clueless as to what they eat the rest of the year. Out of the fifteen species of cranes in the world, Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes are the only species of wild cranes in North America.

Why Are They Endangered?

They began to die out in the early 1800's, as more settlers came and disturbed their habitats. By 1941, only 15 cranes (whoopers) remained of the flock that migrated between Canada and Texas because another six whoopers died out of that flock. The law saved 100 birds since the mid 1980's. The Whooping Crane still has many years to go until its population reaches a safe number.

We got our information from:

World Book Encyclopedia 1989 version.
World Wildlife Fund pamphlet on cranes.