Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   




Watch for Whoopers

Help biologists track migrating whooping cranes across the state.

Be on the lookout for the tallest, rarest birds in North America — the whooping cranes — as they move through the state.

Whooping cranes make a 2,500-mile, 50-day journey from their breeding grounds in northern Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park to the coastal marshes of Texas each year.

These incredible birds are slowly returning from the brink of extinction with a population of more than 500, thanks to coordinated conservation efforts.

During their migration, whooping cranes seek out wetlands and agricultural fields where they can roost and feed, often passing through large urban areas like Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco and Austin. Whooping cranes are a federally protected species, and it is illegal to disturb or harass these birds during their stopovers.

As sandhill crane and waterfowl hunting seasons coincide with whooper migration, hunters should be careful with identification. Whooping cranes are sometimes found in mixed flocks with sandhill cranes, which are gray and slightly smaller. With their all-white body plumage and black wingtips, whooping cranes may also resemble snow geese, which are much smaller and have faster wing beats (video on the TPWD YouTube Channel).

Share sightings with TPWD’s Whooper Watch, a citizen-science reporting system to track whooping crane migration and wintering locations.

 TPWD Staff  DigitalDave | Dreamstime.com

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