Whooping Crane

48 Interesting Facts About Whooping Cranes (Detailed)

Whooping Cranes are a species of crane that live in North America. In this article, we will explore 48 interesting facts about whooping cranes with photos, ID & info to get you up to speed on these amazing creatures!


  • Identification: Whooping Cranes have a bright white plumage throughout, with a large red patch on their head. The red patch, that is made from skin, begins from the cheek along the bill and over the top of their head. They also have black tips on the outer wings. They have yellow eyes, thin legs that are black at every joint, and a long dark pointed bill with a wide gape.
  • Length: 5.0 feet (60.0 in)
  • Weight: 13.1-17.2 lbs.(210-275 oz.)
  • Wingspan: 7.0-8.0 feet (84.0-96.0 in.)
  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Gruidae
  • Genus: Grus
  • Species: G. Americana
  • Scientific Name: Grus Americana
  • Lifespan: 30 years in the wild, and up to 40 years in captivity.
  • Range: The Whooping Crane is found in Canada, USA and Northern Mexico. They live mostly on the coasts and inland waterways of Canada, Alaska, Minnesota, Texas and Louisiana. 
  • Migration: They live in wetlands in the northern part of North America during breeding season but migrate southward to Texas or North Mexico to spend winters near saltwater estuaries or on agricultural fields when not breeding.
  • Habitat: Lakes, vernal pools, bogs,  prairies, wet meadows, open wetlands, swamps, freshwater marshes, agricultural fields, grasslands, and savannas.
  • Diet: Their diet consists of fish (about 75% of their diet), insects (10%), amphibians (5%) and other aquatic invertebrates like crustaceans or mollusks; they also eat a small amount of grains. 
  • Global Population: est. 800 individuals.
  • Conservation Status: Population Increasing (Listed Endangered Species).
  • Breeding Period: Between April to early May.
  • Incubation Length: 29-31 days.
  • Clutch Size: 1-3 eggs.
  • Egg Description: Olive colored egg with brown spots throughout.
  • Number of Broods: 1 brood per year.
  • Fledgling Period: 9 to 10 months.
  • Nesting Habits:  Whooping cranes nest in wetlands such as shallow lakes, marshes, mudflats or bogs, and prefer to be near the dense cover of cattail or tall grasses. 
  • Nesting Materials: Whooping Cranes build their nests in marshy areas in shallow depressions. They use sticks, branches, twigs, cattails, and moss to make a cup-shaped nest on the ground with an opening at the top for sitting eggs or hatchlings. The male brings material while the female sits on her nest.
  • Mating Season: The mating season for Whooping Cranes starts at the beginning of April to with the egg-laying period lasting to early May.
  • Incubation: After the nest is finished, both adults will incubate the egg for *approximately* 29-31 days. The mother feeds her chick for about 1 month after hatching. The chicks are able to fly at 11-13 weeks old, but are not yet ready to leave their nest until 10 months old.

Interesting Facts About Whooping Cranes

  • The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America.
  • The whooping crane was first classified as an endangered species in 1967. 
  • Only endangered whooping cranes live in the wild. The rest of the birds live at zoos and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Males spend most of their time defending their territory from other males, while females spend most of their time incubating her eggs and feeding her chicks.
  • The male will perform a courtship dance before mating with his female.
  • Whooping cranes may stay together as a group until they are adults, after which time they will separate into groups of their own.
  • The highest recorded speed for an adult whooping crane was measured at 56 miles per hour.
  • Whooping cranes are monogamous for life. A pair of birds can even share nesting duties, taking turns incubating their eggs and caring for the chicks.
  • All species of whooping crane are endangered to the point of extinction.
  • Whooping Cranes were named after their distinctive call, which sounds like a loud “whoop”.
  • The whooping crane’s diet consists of invertebrates, such as beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers; fish; frogs; earthworms; mice; snakes; salamanders; insects like dragonflies and ants.
  • Whooping Cranes have a very distinct call that can be heard from 1 to 2 miles away. 
  • These animals migrate to Mexico during the winter months and back north for breeding season each year.
  • Whooping cranes are social birds that flock with other whooping cranes or sandhill cranes.
  • They have a great memory, and can remember where they’ve been for months or even years after escaping from a predator. 
  • Best places to view whooping cranes: Wood Buffalo National Park (Canada and southern Northwest Territories), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge (Missouri), Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (Texas), Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (Florida).
  • Whooping cranes were hunted almost to extinction for their meat, down & feathers at one time.
  • They are known to have one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. They begin flying in September, covering 2,600-3,600 miles over the course of their journey, and return to their breeding grounds in April.
  • Whooping Cranes can fly non-stop for 10 hours, covering up to 460 miles or 740 km.
  • Whooping Crane chicks are called “Colts”.
  • The Whooping Crane is the rarest crane species.

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