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whooping crane

OLogy Series
animal
card
132

whooping crane

OLogy Series
animal

The whooping crane is known as the tallest bird in North America. This long legged creature has been struggling to survive since the late 1800s. Through strong conservation efforts, scientists are working hard to save these birds from extinction. Its name comes from its trumpeting bugle-like call. Each year, these birds migrate about 2,600 miles between Canada and Texas.

One of the Wildest Dances in Nature
Before mating, whooping cranes perform a bizarre-looking courtship dance. The dance consists of strutting, leaping, head-bobbing, wing-flapping, and loud whoops and bugle sounds. These birds will display similar behavior when they are defending their territory, when reunited after separation, or in the springtime. Once a pair of whooping cranes mate, they are united for life. For this reason, these birds have become symbols of a long and happy marriage. In Japan, traditional wedding kimonos have a pair of cranes embroidered on them.

Whooping cranes build their nests:

on the ground

in caves

at the top of rain forest canopies

Are you right?

Correct!

Females build large nests on the ground in marshes so that they are camouflaged among tall vegetation. Sometimes, if the mother whooping crane is disturbed or scared, she may not lay any eggs at all.

After a whooping crane egg is laid, what happens during the next 30 days?

The mother whooping crane sits on the eggs to keep them warm.

The father whooping crane sits on the eggs to keep them warm.

The mother and father whooping cranes take turns sitting on the eggs.

Are you right?

Correct!

Both whooping crane parents sit on the eggs for about 30 days until the babies hatch. This behavior is also known as brooding. Whooping crane chicks are cinnamon brown until they mature to adulthood.

Whooping cranes have been around longer than humans.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Fossils show that cranes have been around for at least 40 million years. Humans came on the scene about 1.8 million years ago.

whooping crane
Scientific name: Grus americana
Size: 4 to 5 feet tall
Diet: insects, clams, fish, rodents
Habitat: wetlands, marshes, and coastal grasslands of southern United States and Canada
Characteristics: white feathers cover head, neck,
and body; black flight feathers; long legs
Threats: habitat destruction and hunting

Image credits: courtesy of Gloria Hopkins.