All photographs copyright (2003-2013) by Kris H. Light

During the winter of 2006-7 there were 3 <strong>Whooping Cranes</strong> (<em>Grus americana</em>) among the thousands of Sandhill cranes at the Hiwassee Wildlife Management Area. Whoopers are an endangered species, there are less than 530 wild and ca...
During the winter of 2006-7 there were 3 Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) among the thousands of Sandhill cranes at the Hiwassee Wildlife Management Area. Whoopers are an endangered species, there are less than 530 wild and captive birds. It is very easy to tell the difference between the two types of cranes, the Whoopers' have pure white plumage (the flight feathers on the lower wings are black, but only noticable in flight and when the wings are raised) and they have different facial markings. This one caused a great deal of excitement from the viewers on the observation deck when it walked up from the grain field. Note the numerous bands on the Whooper's legs. I wonder if the other birds are jealous of its "jewelry"? :) Unfortunately, the "Focus Fairy" fooled around with my camera at this point and I was unable to get any real good shots at this distance! When we returned 2 weeks later with my new camera (Nikon D80), we didn't see the whooping cranes, so I'm stuck with this lousy photo.
***A sad update*** On Feb. 3, 2007 a devastating tornado struck central Florida. Unfortunately, 20 people lost their lives and the 17 captive whooping cranes at a breeding program were killed when the storm struck their compound. The more individuals lost, the less genetic diversity left in the population.

Adsense