When did you first learn about Whooping Cranes?

by C. McConnell, Friends of the Wild Whoopers

“When did you first learn about Whooping Cranes?” This is a question that I have been asked many times. Possibly someone has also asked you that question.

I first learned about Whooping Cranes when I was reading the Weekly Reader, a small newspaper made available to students in our grammar school. I was in the 5th grade during the late 1940’s. Our teacher assigned us to read the paper for an hour after which we would discuss what we read.

While reading I came across a brief article which explained: “About 20 Whooping Cranes have arrived on their annual visit to the Texas coast. These large birds will spend the winter on the coast and then depart about April next year. No one knows where they come from or where they will go. Their destination when they depart is a mystery to federal and state wildlife authorities”.

The next year I read a similar article in the Mobile Press Register newspaper. These two articles really caught my attention and have stuck in my mind throughout the years since. Best I can remember, I read only a couple more articles until I entered wildlife school in 1965 – 25 years later. And even then, in the early 1960’s there was little information about the cranes. It wasn’t until 1955 when it was discovered that Whooping Cranes nested in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. I saw my first wild Whooping Crane in 1994 at Aransas NWR.

How many know about Whooping Cranes?

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Crane Family Photo by Klaus Nigge

In our nation today only a small percentage of citizens have ever heard about Whooping Cranes. How do I now that? Well, I occasionally make presentations to conservation groups about Whoopers. Normally less than half in attendance know what a Whooping Crane is. And during general conversations with people they inquire about my interest. I tell them that I have been involved with helping Whooping Cranes for about the past 20 years. And most people question – “a Whooping what?” But, when thinking it through, it’s easy to understand.

Most U.S. citizens do not live near where Whooping Cranes nest or where they spend the winter or along the relatively narrow migration corridor in the central US. And then there are so many other things to be interested in that Whooping Cranes are far below the radar for most folks.

Importantly, however, those of us who are interested in the magnificent endangered Whooping Cranes are passionate about them. So, now you know my story. What about yours?

Let’s hear about your first encounter.

Friends of the Wild Whoopers would like to hear from you. If you will tell us about your first encounter with Whooping Cranes, we will place all such reports on our web page. So let us hear from you. You can write about your experience in the following “Leave a Reply / Comment” space below or send us an email at admin@FOTWW.org

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***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.


1 thought on “When did you first learn about Whooping Cranes?”

  1. We first learned about Whooping Cranes when my husband was assigned to Offut AFB near Omaha, NE. We had probably heard they were endangered earlier, however, one spring we visited the Platte River near Grand Island to visit the Sandhills. Loved it.
    We now live in Yuba City, CA where the Sandhill Cranes winter. Love them.

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