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Whooping Cranes

The tallest and one of the rarest birds in North America


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Whooping crane or Grus americana is the majestic bird that reaches 5.2 ft (1.5 m) in height. It got its name due to a peculiar whooping call. These birds were nearly extinct in North America by the early 20th century due to hunting and the loss of habitat. Fewer than 20 birds remained when conservation efforts started in the 1940s. Over the years, the population increased to 670 birds.

It's possible to spot migrating whooping cranes in the wild only at several locations across North America. They nest in Canada and migrate to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas for the winter. Non-migratory whooping cranes were also reintroduced to Louisiana wetlands. Currently, Louisiana has about 80 birds in its flock located at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area. The reserve offers birdwatching and nature trails for visitors year-round.

Whooping cranes are endangered because they can only reproduce after reaching maturity at four years old. Whooping cranes mate for life. Every spring, females lay just two eggs, and, usually, just one chick lives. Currently, conservationists take eggs to incubators and raise chicks in captivity.

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