The Crane Track: Whooping Crane Migration Story

School is out for the summer and it’s time to get kids to read books. Friends of the Wild Whoopers recommends “The Crane Track: Whooping Cranes’ Migration … A Tale of Survival” by Gene Steffen.

The Crane Track Whooping Cranes' cover
The Crane Track…book cover

The Crane Track uses factual information to build an interesting story. It’s about a two adult whooping cranes and their young chick, Leki. It describes some scary events during their time in the Wood Buffalo nesting area. And then it follows them while they make a 2,400 migration from the Northwest Territories in Canada to Texas.

Leki, the young whooping crane has no idea that a spectacular journey is about to begin. He lives with his parents, Toluki and Karla, in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Leki has had many adventures there, like the day he ran across wild wolves! Still, his biggest adventure is yet to come as his parents prepare for their annual October migration.

Every year, the whooping cranes travel south to warmer climates for the winter. Toluki and Karla plan to take young Leki 2,400 miles, all the way from their home in Canada to a winter resting place near the Gulf of Mexico. The path they take is called “the crane track,” and it is a journey filled with wild weather and hungry hunters.

Whooping cranes are graceful creatures with white feathers and up to an eight-foot wingspan. Once almost extinct, there are now 304 wild whooping cranes in the population that migrates from Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. All whoopers in this population travel the same path as Leki and his parents. Nature is a carefully balanced, beautiful machine. It’s up to us to protect the path of the cranes’ migratory journey. So is little Leki up for the trip?

Whooping cranes on Texas coast where sea level rise may alter habitat conditions.
Whooping cranes on Texas coast where sea level rise may alter habitat conditions.

The book follows the Track the cranes make twice each year and was featured on a National Geographic special, Flight of the Whooping Crane. The author, Gene Steffen, was the pilot during the making of that film. This is a great story to teach children about geography, endangered species, migration and the general wonder of our natural environment.

One source for the book is



***** FOTWW’s mission is to protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population
of wild whooping cranes and their habitat
. ***** logo

1 thought on “The Crane Track: Whooping Crane Migration Story”

  1. I was lucky to have the opportunity to illustrate the book “The Crane Track” by Gene Steffen. I actually located a pair of Whooping Cranes in FLorida a few hours from where I live and was able to draw and photograph them. I had never seen whooping cranes before. I was familiar with sandhill cranes. Lived in Michigan for years near a location where many flocks came to gather prior to migration. I am happy to say there are many sandhills in my Florida location as well.
    The bird that I drew had been “tagged” and details of his migrations, mates, hardships enroute are on a website I came across in my research. It is an amazing story. I have checked in on the pair since the book was published. I was surprised how much personality and curiosity they seem to have. I tried to get as much into the drawings as I could to add to the story and maybe help out with their plight surviving. I learned a lot. I tried for accuracy.

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