Majestic Beauty

I’ve been a little under the weather as of late and thus a tad on the quiet side.  That said, few words are necessary when it comes to the Whooping Crane.  Allow me to share the majestic beauty of the endangered Whooping Crane.  Watching these guys always leaves me speechless.

whooping crane

Beautiful family of three. Mother, Father, child.

With less than 500 left in the world, I feel privileged to be able to see these magnificent creatures every day as they winter just a couple of blocks away from our RV Park.whooping crane

It’s also not uncommon for me to hear their loud, distinctive calls while sitting in my RV.  I can’t see them from the RV, but I sure can hear them.

During one of my morning strolls, a foggy morning I might add, I managed to witness a heated exchange.

whooping cranes

the 3 teenage whooping cranes eyeing the young juvenile.

The exchange took place because dad did not like the way the three teenagers were looking at his daughter (I don’t know if the juvenile is a girl, but it sure did look like an over protective dad protecting a daughter).  As the three teenagers (yes, they are teenagers at 2 years of age) started walking toward the family, dad was quick to let them know it was time for them to move on.  The loud whooping calls continued amongst the group until the dad had finally had enough and ran toward the three teenagers.

whooping cranes

Dad is not happy with the teenagers. “Stop looking at my daughter!”

whooping cranes

the teenagers are run off by dad

This type of encounter is common as families are territorial and don’t like to mingle with others when they have a child.  Their priority is protecting their young one.

whooping cranes

the teenagers hang out with the sandhill cranes

The three teenage whooping cranes are still too young to partner up thus these three whooping cranes can be found hanging together all the time and sometimes they hang out with the Sandhill Cranes. Once they do find partners, they mate for life.whooping cranes

Even though the 3 whoopers have lost all the rust coloring of juvenile status, they don’t come into mating age until they are about 3 years of age.whooper

I’m still awed by these magnificent birds.  They stand 5 feet tall (1.5 meters) and have a wingspan of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters).  They can live to be 22 – 24 years old in the wild.  All the whoopers I’ve photographed here are wild whooping cranes and not one is banded.whooping cranewhooping cranesMy most memorable moment thus far was the day they flew right over me.  I can’t believe I managed to hold my camera steady as I whooping crane looked up in awe…. such a rare experience.  Did you know this group of whooping cranes spend their winter here along the Texas Gulf Coast and their summers at the Wood Buffalo National Park in far northern Alberta, Canada?  That’s a 2,400 mile journey.whoopersThere’s also another group of whooping cranes in Wisconsin.  You can read more about this group and the International Crane Foundation here.whooping craneEven though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…. I don’t consider myself a birder, just someone who appreciates the beauty of wildlife.  And the whooping crane is one fine and rare beauty that draws me back to this part of Texas time and again.endangered cranes
The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story
Sandhill and Whooping Cranes: Ancient Voices over America’s Wetlands

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74 thoughts on “Majestic Beauty

  1. Beautiful! I love your description of the encounter. I agree with the above poster. You could write children’s books! Actually, in this post, you kind of DID write a non-fiction style children’t book teaching about whooping cranes – for a reading level where they just want a few sentences per page and a picture.

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  4. I sure enjoyed this tribute to the magnificent whooping crane, Ingrid…a bird we are lucky to still have on earth with us. And your photos were really incredible. 🙂

    • Thank you Jet. It’s heart warming to be able to see so many whoopers and since it’s been especially wet in Texas, the bird’s are said to be very healthy

  5. Fantastic captures of these Whooping Cranes, especially the flying captures!!! The clarity is incredible. Great information about the cranes. I wish I caught this post before I posted my flying bird shot, I’d be happy to make a link. Well, next time if it’s okay with you. 🙂

    • Awe, thank you so much Amy. Capturing birds in flight sure is challenging, but I’m finally figuring out some of the custom settings on this camera (Panasonic FZ200). Some shots work and some don’t. Thank goodness for digital photography and the delete button 😉

  6. Whoa, what gorgeous shots you took of these magnificent birds!!! I have only only seen two and that sighting was a long time ago. Glad you are feeling better! 😄

    • Thanks Sheila. The whooping cranes are quite impressive in person and are actually responsible for my interest in bird photography. I’m certainly not a birder but do appreciate the beauty of our feathered friends.

  7. Ingrid, your photos of the whoopers are amazing! They are such magnificent birds and you captured them beautifully — including in flight, which is challenging. We biked from Goose Island SP to see a family of three whoopers every day when we were staying in Rockport several years ago. I wonder if we were seeing some of the same birds that you’ve been seeing? I hope so. It makes me happy to know that they’re making a comeback from the brink of extinction.

    • Thank you Laurel and I’m pretty sure some of the birds you saw are still around. Just yesterday I photographed nine whoopers hanging together…. nine! Very exciting to see so many. They are the instigators in my interest in bird photography which started last year when I first got introduced to these gorgeous birds.

    • Watching these beauties makes putting up with the inclement weather a lot easier. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not longing for the desert 😉

  8. Watching Whooping Cranes hang out with Sandhills is beyond my wildest dream. We were fortunate to have five Sandhills fly right over us in Northern Wisconsin in September. Other than that, I’ve only seen them taxidermied in Visitor Centers.

    This post lifted my heart. Thanks. Hope you are feeling better. Feeling crappy on the road is no fun.

    • I’m doing much better, thank you. I can’t even begin to count the number of sandhill cranes around here. Quite often the whoopers hand out with the sandhills. We’re thinking about a Midwest trip this summer and that would include a visit to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo WI. I’ll be using your blog for U.P. ideas.

  9. Really enjoyed your narrative and shots of these guys. I didn’t realize there were so few of them. We have several Sandhill’s at the campground here in South FL.

    • Thank you Larry and yes they are rare. In the 1940’s there were less than 20 remaining so it’s very exciting to see their population grow.

    • Whooping cranes are the largest bird in North America and quite the treat to observe. Did you watch my video on Facebook? Not the greatest video. That was my first time ever using the record button on my camera and I wasn’t even sure it was working 😉

      • Ingrid, what is the link to your video? Perhaps I can share it on our Friends of the Wild Whoopers Facebook page, if you don’t mind. One can never have too many photos or videos of the wild ones. 🙂

        Pam

        • Hi Pam. The video is not the greatest as it was my first attempt with my camera, but it’s always fun listening to these beauties. I can be found at Ingrid Elizabeth and I’ll try and link

          • Thank you Ingrid. I just sent you a friend request and check out the video. 🙂 I hope you don’t mind but I shared your blog entry on our Facebook page and a few other places. I’m sure craniacs around North America will enjoy it.

  10. Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well Ingrid. These captures are amazing! I had no idea we had whooping cranes flying this far north. Off to share this post on Twitter. So cool.

    • Awe, thanks Sue. I need to do a little research on the Wood Buffalo NP as a possible summer destination for us. Could be an interesting excursion. Unfortunately, this summer will have us returning to the Midwest to visit with family. Thus, a trip to Canada will need to wait.

  11. Amazing birds, I saw some at a bird sanctuary in Florida doing their mating dance – crazy! So glad you’re enjoying them in the wild.

    • Yes, they are amazing. That mating dance is quite something. I saw a little of it last winter. I never tire observing these beautiful birds.

    • Thanks Pam, they are incredible birds to see in person AND to hear them. Did you watch my video on Facebook? I can’t seem to post the video on WordPress plus it wasn’t the greatest video either but at least you can hear them.

  12. I am in total awe! I may just come knocking on your door one of these days so we can go out together to experience these wonderful and rare creatures. A family has been spotted up here in northern TX area, but I have not had the privilege so far.

    • The Whooping Cranes seem to be finding new homes which is kind of exciting as their population is growing…. slowly, but still increasing in numbers. I really have a great time tracking down the birds around here and trying to capture photos of them. Not the easiest form of photography. I just don’t know why the birds won’t give me a warning when they decide to fly 😉

  13. What fantastic beautiful pictures, and such a privilege to see such stunning rare birds. We didn’t see them last time we visited Texas. We know all about Sandhill Cranes – got a dozen visiting our yard every day (they love whole corn).

    • Thank you Pam. Several of the yards around the neighborhood here have large feeders which attract the Sandhills and the Whoopers and I’m assuming it’s corn. I love the sound the cranes make and can hear them almost every morning in the distance. They make up for the cold weather we’ve been having.

  14. Thank you for sharing your stunning photos! We are headed that way in late February and hoping to have a chance to see the Whooping Cranes. Do you mind sharing where you are camping?

    You are an inspiration:)

    • Sandhills are a well populated bird where as Whoopers are rare. I’m hoping to visit the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo this summer. We’ll visit my dad first in northern IL then head up into WI and visit friends and the cranes.

  15. Beautiful photos of beautiful birds. I love the story of the Dad and the teenagers. I hope they are still around when we get there in March. Here’s hoping you feel better soon!

  16. LOVE! LOVE!LOVE!…and…you are one brave woman to look UP at those birds overhead…You might have had to shampoo that beautiful hair an extra time …tehee.

    • I was standing in the back of the truck (personal bird viewing platform) as they flew right over me…. amazing. Ah, the shampooing of the hair is no big deal. I’d be more concerned about the camera, but then again having to buy a new camera wouldn’t be so bad either. “Honey, I need a new camera because Mr. Whooper just pooed all over this one”. How do ya think the big guy would respond to that? LOL.

    • Thank you Marsha…. you are too kind. Now if only this weather would improve, I might be able to capture some more shots before heading west at the end of the month 🙂

  17. I love the last capture! Having been to the International Crane Foundation really made me understand and appreciate these beauties. Despite the weather you managed to do a great job of watching and capturing their habits and grace. Enjoy them while you can, for you are so privilege for camping near them.
    Thank you too for sharing me your secret where to watch them 🙂

    • It was my pleasure sharing these beauties with you and I have plans to visit the International Crane Foundation in WI this summer. Yesterday the cranes were even closer to the road but it was raining and thus photographing them was difficult…. so dark out. Let’s hope this weather clears soon, I have more film to shoot 🙂

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