6 Fascinating Whooping Crane Facts

Updated: Jan. 26, 2024

Learn about the current whooping crane population and kick up more facts about these elegant and endangered birds.

Whooping Crane,Side view of crane perching on grassy field,Horicon Marsh,Wisconsin,United States,USA
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Whooping crane at Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin

Whooping Crane Population

Because of unregulated hunting and habitat loss, fewer than two dozen whooping cranes were estimated to be alive in 1941. Thanks to conservation efforts, about 600 whooping cranes are alive today. Some scientists even hand-rear chicks while dressed as adult cranes so the young don’t imprint on people.

Learn 8 interesting facts about sandhill cranes.

Whooping Cranes (grus Americana) Flying
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Whooping cranes flying on the Texas gulf coast

Whooping Crane Migration

The only self-sustaining flock of whooping cranes in the wild migrates around 2,400 miles from Canada to Texas each year. They winter along the Texas Gulf Coast at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and in the Southeast.

Check out the best birding hotspots for spring sandhill crane migration.

Whooping Crane Eating Corn
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Whooping crane eating corn

What Does a Whooping Crane Eat?

Whooping cranes are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals. They especially love blue crabs and can eat up to 80 in a day.

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Courtesy Tom Scheidt
Whooping cranes are taller than sandhill cranes and have black wing tips.

Whooping Cranes Are Really Big Birds

Standing nearly 5 feet tall with long legs and necks, they hold the title of the tallest bird in North America. These stunning white cranes are easy to identify if you’re lucky enough to find one. Sandhill cranes are slightly shorter, and their feathers are gray instead of white.

Discover 15 more white birds that birders should know.

Scarce whooping crane pair in wetland setting.
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Whooping crane pairs form close bonds.

Do Whooping Cranes Mate for Life?

During courtship dances, a crane bows its head, flaps its wings and leaps into the air to form and strengthen its bond with its one mate for life.

Whooping Crane
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Nesting whooping crane incubating an egg in Wisconsin

Nesting Habits and Eggs

Female whooping cranes typically lay two eggs per clutch, and both parents play an active role in building the nest and feeding the young.

Next, learn 7 fascinating facts about great blue herons.