Texas Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) migrate 2,500 miles from their breeding grounds in Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast Aransas Wildlife Preserve near Austwell, Texas, where they spend the winter.
Once they were hunted for their meat, eggs, and feathers. According to the United States Geological Survey, there were 20 birds counted in 1942. The US Fish and Wildlife Department in 2021, observed a total of 506 Whooping Cranes in Texas.
At Aransas Wildlife Preserve you may see adults tending their babies. The birds hunt in the tall grass, sedges and cattails. Whooping Cranes are the tallest birds in North America and stand 5 feet tall. They mate for life and face conservation pressures from unregulated hunting, pollution, and habitat loss.
Texas Whooping Cranes face a new threat. The United States Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department in 2022, considered removing Whooping Cranes from endangered status and “down-listing” or reclassifying the birds’ status from Endangered to Not Endangered.
With fewer than 600 birds total, perhaps Texas Whooping Cranes need and deserve continued endangered listing. The still small population of these tall Texans argues for further investigation and protection.