Ardea americana Linnaeus, 1758, Hudson Bay, Canada. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Whooper, big white crane; French: Grue blanche; German: Schreikranich; Spanish: Grulla Trompetera.
Height 5 ft (150 cm), wingspan 7–8 ft (200–230 cm). Weight: male 16 lb (7.3 kg), female 14 lb (6.4 kg). White with black wingtips, legs, and feet; black facial markings; and a bare patch of red skin on its head.
Wood Buffalo National Park in west-central Canada; winters at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Currently use ponds and marshes; historically used potholes and other wetlands of North American plains and prairies. Winter habitat includes coastal marshes.
Wild flock is migratory, as well as an experimental flock in the Rocky Mountains. An experimental flock in Florida is nonmigratory, and has dispersed from its original release area.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Omnivorous, its diet includes blue crabs, small fish, rodents, berries, tubers, grain, insects, and other invertebrates.
Whooping cranes are monogamous. Both parents take turns incubating two eggs for a period of 29–30 days. Both eggs may hatch, but usually only one chick survives the first few months to reach fledging age.
Endangered, and listed on CITES Appendix I.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
After near extinction and subsequent precarious recovery, it has become a symbol of conservation in North America.
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