By: Nick Williamson
Whooping cranes are almost entirely white. The body and wing feathers are a bright white, except on the tips of the outer wings. The tips of the primary feathers are black. The most noticeable characteristic of the whooping crane is the large red patch on the head. The red patch extends from the cheek, along the bill and over the top of the head. The red patch is made of skin and is almost featherless. Whooping cranes have yellow eyes and thin, black legs. Whooping cranes are omnivores. They primarily eat crustaceans, small fish, insects, amphibians and reptiles. They’ll also eat grains, marsh plants and acorns. They can live above 20-25 years in the wild Whooping cranes like wetlands, marshes, mudflats, wet prairies and fields. The main causes of extinctions/endangerment are market hunters. The meat of the crane is highly desirable due to its savory taste. The solution to this problem was TPWD put a strictly enforced regulation on the harvesting of the animals making it illegal to harvest them. They then expanded the forbidden zones in all the WMA and added the desirable habitat for the cranes so they could reproduce. The cranes were at a all time low of 15 birds in 1941, there was 57 by 1970 and 214 by 2005.