Whooping Cranes visit the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge along the Texas coast from September to early April each year. Survey estimates for this year are not complete but April 2016 report indicated the presence of 329 Whooping Cranes, up from an estimated 308 cranes the previous year.

Before human interference, there were believed to be 15,000-20,000 whooping cranes, so the Whooping Crane population was never very large. Habitat loss and hunting drastically reduced the whooping crane population. By 1860 the number had dwindled to about 1400 cranes.  The all-time low fell to 15 birds in 1941.  From there conservation efforts, while slow because of the very limited number of Whooping cranes, have increased the population to a little over 500 birds, some wild and some in captivity.  This includes a non-migratory population that is being established in Louisiana.

There are many online resources for learning more about the conservation efforts dedicated  to save the whopping crane.  Here are a few.

Texas Tracking
Tracking device study by Texas Parks and Wildlife has been attaching trackers to cranes on their wintering grounds on the Texas coast.  As of Feb, 2014 68 birds had trackers attached.  The devices record 4-5 locations every 24 hours and help identify migration routes, habitat use, nesting areas and more.  Here is a YouTube video about the program.

Eastern Migratory Flock
An Eastern Migratory Population has been established in Florida. Efforts began in 200 and the current population is estimated at about 100 birds.  Visit the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership web site for details on this effort.

Cows helping Whooping Cranes

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