Alexis G.

Whooping Crane

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Common Name? Whooping Crane

Scientific Name? Grus americana

Nicknames? Whooper, Stork, White Crane


Species Category? Aves (also known as Birds)

Physical Description? external image whooping-crane.jpg
The body of the whooping crane is mostly white, with the exception of black-tipped wings and red patch on the head. Their legs are black and their eyes are yellow.

Diet? Whooping cranes are omnivorous, meaning they consume both plants and animals.

Breeding? Whooping cranes first gain the ability to reproduce between the ages 4-6. They look for mates while at their winter locations. The mating call involves dancing around, flapping their wings. The couple continues to mate until they migrate back north, where they build a nest and lay eggs. Although the cranes lay 1-3 eggs, usually one survives. The parents provide for their young for about a year until it becomes independent.


Location (Nesting/Living)? Whooping cranes can only be found in North America. They are mostly found in the western states of the United States, which include Colorado and Wyoming.

Range? Historically, the species' ranges were from the Arctic coast to central Mexico and from the Rocky Mountains to the the Atlantic coast. Currently, only three populations are known today: one in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, one in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, and one in Florida.

Migration or Hibernation? The whooping crane is a migratory bird. Migration usually begins during the season of autumn. However, some cranes will migrate as late as December. The population that resides in Florida is not migratory. Instead, they remain in Florida all year.

Above Ground or Underground? These cranes live above ground.

Predators or inter-species relationships? Predators of the whooping crane are the American Black Bear, Wolverine, Gray Wolf, Red Fox, Bald Eagle, the Common Raven, and the Bobcat.


Why has the species become endangered? Whooping cranes were originally listed under the endangered species list for low population numbers and slow reproductive potential. These low populations occurred because of shooting and habitat destruction. Today, threats include collisions with man-made objects (buildings, fences, etc.), chemical spills, predators, disease, severe weather, and loss of most of original genetic material. Shooting and habitat destruction remain as threats.


What steps have been taken to protect the species? Cross-fostering is a technique that has the potential of protecting the species. It involves removing eggs from whooping crane nets and moving them into the habitat of the sandhill cranes. This will allow the sandhill cranes to raise the youth of the whooping cranes, which will cause the young to imprint. When the youth imprint on the sandhill cranes, they will use the survival skills they learned from the sandhill cranes, and not realize that they are from a different species. There has not been a successful cross-fostering between sandhill cranes and whooping cranes yet.


Gamel, Chris. "Whooping Crane." Through the Lens with Chris Gamel. Web. <>

Tesky, Julie L. 1993. Grus americana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
Available: [2011, January 6].

"Whooping Crane." National Wildlife Federation. Web. <>.

"Whooping Crane (Grus americana)." U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Web. <>.

"Whooping Crane." Wikipedia. Web. <>.

Wilkman, Alice. "Whooping Crane (Grus americana)." Flickr. Web. 6 Jan 2011. <>.