Scientifically known as Grus Americana, this is the tallest crane species. Marshes, wetlands and prairies are the areas which these birds inhabit. With the start of winter they shift their base to more freshwater ponds, grasslands and salt tidal marshes.
During the time of breeding their dwelling place changes to shallow ponds, creeks, shrubs and wood terrain. They have amazing adaptations, which change as per their breeding and nesting seasons. It is identified as one of the wild birds of North America that has striking white color feathers and a red crown.
Before human intervention, they were high in number. However, as humans began deforestation and started occupying green fields for development, these cranes lost their habitat and were forced to the brink of extinction.
As the number of these cranes came to be noticed, conservationists began their mission to save this species and since then have realized a gradual increase in their number. The facts mentioned here will expose you to the story of their downfall and rise and even reveal some more interesting information on these species of birds.
These birds are native to North America. Muskeg is their nesting place and during the breeding season, these cranes shift to the Gulf of Texas and Sunset lake in Portland.
They appear white and have a reddish crown and a dark-colored bill. The end of the outer wings is blackish. The red color on the head, fades towards the cheek and spreads slightly on the bill. The red crown is nothing but featherless skin.
They are 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of 7.5 feet. The males weigh around 7 kg while females weigh around 6 kg.
These birds are omnivores and indulge in eating crustaceans, fish, mollusks, tiny reptiles, berries and aquatic plants. They love to feed on frogs, rodents, fish, crayfish, snails and even small birds. They also feed on corn, barley and wheat grain.
Some usual brood predators includes the Wolverine, American black bear, Bald Eagle, Red Fox and the Common Raven. Adult cranes feel less threatened by their predators as they are likely to be attacked only by Bobcats. Sometimes these cranes fall prey to illegal hunting.
They have a loud shrill call and exhibit certain movements to attract mates.
The process of courtship is an interesting sight to watch. The cranes flap wings and dance to attract mates and maintain a strong bond since then.
After mating the female crane lays 1-3 eggs and both male and female incubate and then nurture their young ones.
Out of the 3 baby cranes it is likely that only one may survive. The young one will stay with its parents for a year and separate once the family migrates back to their winter grounds.
They can glide into the air without flapping their wings for a long time too.
They have a lifespan of 20-25 years.
During the year 1941, their count went down to 15, which was a big indication of their extinction. Today the number has increased and many organizations are still working towards saving the birds from extinction. The flock of birds in captivity were transferred to Florida but they could never migrate from there.
On the other hand, the species in Idaho could not survive. Later, the chicks were taught to migrate with the help of ultralight aircraft. This technique increased their survival chances and the population of these cranes steadily increased.
These cranes can fly for 10 hours covering up to 750 kms.
While making the long whooping sound the crane coils about 23 cm of trachea into its sternum. This allows it to make variations in its sounds too.
Though measures are taken to save Whooping cranes, they are still rated as endangered species. In spite of all the efforts, today there are only 400 cranes recorded alive. Birds form an important part of the eco-system and must be saved from extinction.