Whooping Crane Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The whooping crane (Grus americana) is the tallest bird in North America. It is an endangered species but the population has recovered in the last 10 years or so. There were only 150 cranes remaining in 2003 as against the current estimates of more than 437 pairs of whooping cranes.

Whooping Crane Facts

Anatomy

  • The plumage of adult crane is nearly all white while its long legs are dark greyish to black.
  • They have red crown with a pointed bill. Young cranes are recognized by cinnamon brown plumage.
  • The tip of the wings is black which can be seen when the bird is flying.
  • They stand 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) at the shoulder with the wingspan measuring up to 2.3 meters (7.5 ft).
  • Adult male averages 7.3 kg (16 lb) while female weighs up to 6.2 kg (14 lb).
  • Whooping cranes grow to a body length of about 132 cm (52 in).
  • They have 53–63 cm (21–25 in) long chord.
  • The length of the tarsus is around 26–31 cm (10–12 in).
  • Whooping cranes have a loud call which can be heard at quite a distance. Most of these calls are typically made to drive off the predators.
Whooping Cranes
Whooping Cranes ©www.vetstreet.com

Distribution & Habitat

Whooping cranes are known to occur in the United States including the Gulf coast of Texas.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Whooping cranes are thought to feed on eel, crustaceans, small reptiles, mollusks, and aquatic plants.
  • They will search for food in shallow waters while walking in the fields. The diet also includes smaller birds, aquatic insects, crayfish, berries, clams, frogs, aquatic tubers, and fish.
  • While migrating they supplement their diet with corn, wheat, barley, and waste grain.

Predators

Predators include common raven, bobcat, American black bear, red fox, lynx, Florida panther, American alligator, and gray wolf.

Conservation Status

Endangered

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