“One of the rarest North American birds,” reads this Audubon description of the elegant whooping crane, “and also one of the largest and most magnificent.” In this National Audubon Society video by filmmaker and environmentalist Christine Lin, conservation-minded tourists take a foggy 2019 catamaran trip on the Port Aransas coast to spot this five foot tall endangered species: The Whooping Cranes of Texas.
“Once fairly widespread on the northern prairies, it was brought to the brink of extinction in the 1940s, but strict protection has brought the wild population back to well over one hundred. The flock that winters on the central Texas coast flies 2400 miles north to nest in Wood Buffalo National Park in central Canada; this remote breeding area was not discovered until 1954.”
More information from the USGS:
“While several factors have contributed to the current status of Whooping Cranes, the primary reasons are habitat loss and past rampant, unregulated hunting for their meat and feathers.
“Whooping Cranes live in wetlands and the success of Whooping Crane populations depend on the health of wetland ecosystems. Over time, wetlands across North America have been drained for agriculture and damaged through development, oil and gas exploration, and the construction of intercoastal waterways…”
In this Seeing Endangered Whooping Cranes Step Through the Fog of Extinction on Audubon.org, Lin writes:
“It’s alarming to think that this family would not exist today if it weren’t for protections put in place to save them. In 1967, the year Archibald danced with Tex, Whooping Cranes were one of the first birds to gain federal protection under the Endangered Species Act [pdf], which has prevented 99 percent of listed species from going extinct. The act made killing, injuring, or harassing the birds a criminal offense; that helped relieve pressure on the wild birds and allow time for reintroduction projects and habitat restoration to spur the species’ population growth.
“’When I moved here in 2011, the Whooping Crane count was in the 200s,’ says Colleen Simpson, nature preserve manager for the City of Port Aransas. ‘Last year we broke 500, so they’re increasing in numbers. That’s a great thing to see.'”
Learn more about the annual Whooping Crane Festival.
Then watch these conservation videos:
• Trying To Save The Red Crowned Cranes Of Japan
• Rangers candle the Royal Albatross egg at the RoyalCam nest
• An Eagle’s Feather, an animation about the mighty Philippine Eagle
• Releasing Rocky the eagle back into the wild
• The Kakapo, the world’s only flightless parrot is a very rare bird