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45-50" (1.1-1.3 m) body length and 60" (1.52 m) tall. W. 7' 6" (2.3 m)
Winters on Gulf Coast of Texas at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and more recently a family group have been wintering at Goose Island State Park a few miles up the coast from Aransas NWR. A few winter at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.
Captive bred flocks have been established in several areas - see below in the Conservation Status section.
Breeds in northern freshwater bogs; winters on coastal prairies.
The Wood Buffalo/Aransas flock migrates 2,500 miles each way between its nesting grounds and its wintering grounds.
The cranes forage while walking in shallow water or in fields, sometimes probing with their bills. On the wintering grounds in Texas they feed on various crustaceans (blue crabs are a favorite), molluscs, fish (such as eel), berries, snakes and aquatic plants. During the breeding season in Canada, they feed on frogs, mice, voles, smaller birds, fish, reptiles, dragonflies, damselflies, other aquatic insects, crayfish, clams, snails, aquatic tubers, berries, grasshoppers, and crickets. During migration, waste grain is an important food.
The cranes nest in impenetrable muskeg of the taiga wilderness, on the ground, usually on a raised area in a marsh. 1-3 buff eggs, blotched with brown, are laid and incubation is 29-35 days. The parents often feed the young for 6-8 months after birth and the young leave the parents after about 1 year. Usually no more than one young bird survives each season, but in recent years, several pairs have raised twins, in fact the April 2007 census in Texas, counted seven whooping crane pairs with two chicks each.
A trumpet-like call that can be heard for several miles.
 Conservation Status
The Whooping Crane is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. The majestic Whooping Crane was reduced by hunting and habitat destruction to about 15 birds wintering in Texas in 1945 and is one of the rarest birds in North America. Strictly protected and monitored since then, the total population, with 162 cranes in captivity, has grown to 599. A population of about 270 cranes summers and breeds in Wood Buffalo National Park , Canada, on the Alberta-Northwest Territories border, and winters on the Gulf Coast of Texas at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and nearby coastal areas. The winter 2010-2011 census counted a total of 283 cranes, the highest record yet, but 4 birds (3 adults and 1 juvenile) died over the winter, leaving a total of 279 birds returning to Canada in the Spring. There were 41 juveniles at the end of the winter in March 2011.
A program to re-introduce endangered Whooping Cranes at Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho ultimately failed. Whooping Crane eggs were hatched by Sandhill Crane foster parents, but the resulting offspring, having imprinted on the Sandhill Cranes, failed to mate with other Whooping Cranes. A non-migratory population now lives on Kissimmee Prairie, Florida. As of August 2011, this flock contains 20 birds, 16 of which are paired. Ten captive-raised Whooping Cranes were released at White Lake, Louisiana, in February 2011. A a non-migratory flock had resided here up until 1950. Seven of the birds were still alive after the first seven months.
A migratory flock between Wisconsin and Florida has been established in the last few years. This has involved the re-introduction of the Whooping Crane to a new flyway east of the Mississippi river. This project uses isolation rearing of young Whooping Cranes, where they are costume reared from hatching, and trained to follow ultralight aircraft. The organization which is responsible for the ultralight migrations is Operation Migration and the larger group, WCEP (the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership), oversees all aspects of the Eastern Introduced Flock. As of spring, 2011, there are 115 cranes in this flock.
The grand total of Whooping Cranes, including 162 in captivity, is 599 (2011).
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