Whooping cranes, South Dakota, USA
© Gerrit Vyn/Minden Picture
Info. Whooping cranes taking off during migration in South Dakota, USA
The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America at a height of around 1.5 metres. The beautiful white bird is one of only two crane species found in North America. The birds get their name from their very loud call, which they sound either alone or together when courting. They have a very long windpipe which stretches down into their breastbone. This allows them to make loud sounds, which can be heard a few kilometres away. The whooping crane was close to extinction in the 1940s, with fewer than two dozen birds in the wild. But thanks to conservation efforts, their numbers have now risen to more than 600.