Best time to travel to Louisiana

Whooping Cranes in Louisiana

The tallest and one of the rarest birds in North America

Best time: October 1–February 28

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Cranes
A whooping crane

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.

Practical info

Where can I find a group of endangered whooping cranes in Louisiana?

A stock of 80 endangered whooping cranes is located at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching and nature trails year-round. To catch a view of the cranes, it's best to visit between November and February when the temperature is cooler. Show more

What purpose does the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area serve?

The White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area covers 76,000 acres in Louisiana and is home to over 300 species of birds. Other wildlife, such as American alligators and otters, also reside there. It has been designated a globally important bird area by the National Audubon Society and holds significant importance in providing habitat for several species. Show more

During which time frame is the breeding season for whooping cranes?

Laying their eggs between late March and mid-May, whooping cranes mostly breed in the spring. While the female lays only two eggs, generally, one chick survives. Since whooping cranes don't mature until four years of age, conservationists prefer to incubate eggs and raise chicks before releasing them back into the wild. Show more

In what ways are conservationists aiding the mating of whooping cranes?

Supervision of eggs and raising chicks in captivity is an approach taken by conservationists. Besides, the birds are trained to migrate using an ultra-light aircraft. Due to reproduction limitations, the survival of whooping cranes in the wild is challenging. Therefore, releasing captive-bred birds can serve to recover their population count. Show more

Which endangered birds apart from whooping cranes can be located in Louisiana wetlands?

Various other threatened bird species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, mangrove cuckoo, black rail, and piping plover, can be spotted at Louisiana wetlands. Since these birds are also vulnerable due to habitat loss, conservationists focus on preserving coastal wetlands to ensure a thriving environment for resident and migratory species. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen