The adult Whooping Crane, Grus americana, or whopper, is the tallest North American bird. It has a long neck, long dark pointed bill, and a long thin black legs. A larger male is around one and a half meters tall. While in flight, its wings measure two meters between its tip of long black primaries, or flight feathers, which cannot usually been seen when is the bird is resting. At close range, the adult Whooping Crane is an impressive bird, with snowy white plumage, black bristle like feathers on its face, a small black patch on the back of the head, and big, "glowing" yellow eyes. The juvenile bird has dark brown eyes and a cinnamon-and-white plumage. In both types of birds, their white wings are black tipped. I have included pictures on the cover to assist you in visualizing this magnificent animal.
Reasons Why Species is Endangered .
The main thing limiting the Whooping Crane is the size and location of its "hibernation" grounds. Whooping Cranes each need a minimum pace, which they guard immensely. Studies show that the Aransas Reserve could only sustain a hibernating population of 200 cranes. It is impossible to further increase the size of this refuge because it is surrounded by human development like houses and businesses. There are also, major environmental problems for the Whooping Cranes. The Aransas Reserve bides in one of the busiest oil transport corridors in the world. A major oil spill down South in the Gulf of Mexico could wipe out an entire flock. Very few cranes are lost each year due to accidents such collisions with hydro or power lines or the occasional hunter. But even these rare occurrences can have a devastating effect on such a small population due to the Whooping Cranes" low reproductive rate.
Decline of Population.
In the past, the population of Whooping Cranes was quite enormous. In the 1700s, the Whooping Crane population was estimated around 1 500 birds. These numbers declined very quickly from 1800 - 1900 due to the loss of breeding grounds.