Whooping cranes taking off during spring migration in South Dakota, USA
© Gerrit Vyn/Minden Picture
Whoopin' it up!
For Endangered Species Day, celebrated on the third Friday in May, we're featuring North America’s tallest bird, the whooping crane. One of only two crane species found on the continent, these graceful birds can stand up to 5ft tall. By the early 1940s, they were driven perilously close to extinction, with fewer than two dozen birds in the wild. Thanks to conservation efforts, their numbers have risen to more than 600. But these incredible creatures remain at risk, particularly from the loss of their wetland habitat.
Whooping cranes are so named because of their unique and very loud call, which they sound either alone or in unison. The calls are so loud they can be heard more than a mile away, partly because the bird’s trachea, which can be almost 5ft long, coils into its sternum to help it project.