Endangered species are everywhere! All over the planet, animal species are on the brink of vanishing from the planet forever. And many agencies are in place trying to prevent this from happening. They risk it all to save animal species that few people even realize are in trouble. Species on the official list range from “of least concern” to “extinct” (or the slightly less terminal “extinct in the wild.” And surprising to many of us is the fact that these animal species are often right in our backyard. Within Central United States, even there is one such species, the Whooping Crane. Here are some interesting and important facts about the Whooping Crane.
- Whooping Cranes were at one point so endangered (in the 1940’s) that only 16 were known to be alive on the planet. They were almost lost forever.
- After this dismal count, government and non-profit agencies in the United States and Canada put in a great deal of effort for many, many years. Now, the wild population is estimated to be around 200 or more and many are being bred in captivity as well. This is one case where humanity stepped in and saved a species.
- Whooping Cranes are considered to be the most endangered crane species in the world (and with good reason given the numbers just mentioned).
- The Whooping Crane is often confused with other species of crane, especially to the untrained eye. The biggest difference between Whooping Cranes and others is that they are the tallest cranes to be found in North America. They also are very striking to the eye, with white feathers (plumage) and a red head (crown of the head to be more specific). This stark color contrast makes them both eye-catching and beautiful.
- Whooping Cranes have a wingspan of up to seven and a half (7.5) feet! Those are some mighty big wings. They can grow as tall as five feet as well.
- Whooping Cranes go through elaborate measures when courting a mate. They actually dance around in a flourish of hops and wing flaps to attract a mate. Once they have succeeded in attaining a mate, they mate for life. If a mate dies, they may choose another mate, but generally they are with one partner for life. Additionally, they travel and live in family groups making them a highly social species.
- Nowadays, the biggest threat to the Whooping Crane is the deterioration of their habitat, namely the deterioration of wetlands. While populations are still on the increase, the loss of their habitat would prove catastrophic to the Whooping Crane.
- They nest primarily in the Northwest Territories of Canada. They only lay between one and three eggs per year, which mean that efforts to rebuild Whooping Crane populations has been slow, though clearly successful.
These are just a few of the many interesting facts about Whooping Cranes. Though they are still considered to be endangered, efforts to save the Whooping Crane from the brink of extinction have been largely successful. From only an approximate 16 animals living in the wild in the 1940’s to estimates at 500 to 600 in the wild and captivity combined is a great feat and efforts are still in place to save this important species as well as to preserve their habitat. For more information about Whooping Cranes and all other crane species, take a look at the International Crane Foundation’s website!