Sunday, December 4, 2016

Whoop It Up!!

We had friends visit from South Texas, and we took the opportunity to go out on the Skimmer tour boat to see Whooping Cranes up close. While it is possible to see cranes from the observation towers at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, or even in the fields around Goose Island State Park, taking a boat out to the shores of the Wildlife Refuge is the best way to get close-up views of dozens of these wonderful birds.
Whooping Crane
We saw single birds, pairs, and family groups. 
Whooping Crane pair
In a family group you can tell the juvenile bird by the rusty markings that they carry for the first year. 
Whooping Crane family
This particular family group decided to take flight while we were watching, and their synchronized landing made for this interesting image.
Whooping Crane family landing
Many of the cranes were carrying impressive leg hardware. This individual had a plastic band on its right leg and a radio transmitter on its left. Fancy!
Banded Whooping Crane
In 1938 the total population of Whooping Cranes had fallen to just 15 birds. Today the population is thought to be around 600, with 450 in the wild and the remainder in captivity. Hopefully they'll be around for centuries to come. 



  1. The "Whooping Crane family landing" is a good example of the rule of thirds.

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  3. I was shocked to read there are ~450 in the wild. I hope this number is still growing.