Click on any photo for a better larger view of entire set of photos!
I had to create a post for my birthday, and what better a subject than the extremely rare Whooping Crane(s). Nine of these creatures flew in for a restover and have stayed for more than a week now, waiting for favorable southerly winds to retake the skies. (Note: These birds are NOT the juveniles that have already migrated with the help of Operation Migrations ultralight airplanes this year. They are migrating on their own.)
Did you know that there are only 105 whooping cranes east of the Mississippi River? And here I am lucky enough to put my lens on these 9!
They are clearly banded, and with some research I have found out that these guys are from the 2009 hatch at Necedah Wisconsin's Operation Migration. Here is what they said in 2009: "On July 21, 2009, 11 Whooping Crane chicks were transferred from ICF to the nearb Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to make up the 2009 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) cohort. The DAR birds are initially isolation-reared at ICF and then at the Necedah NWR until the fall. All the chicks were wary of all the new sounds of bird life in the marsh, but adjusted well to the beauty of nature on the refuge. In September or October they are released on or near the refuge with older Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes, from whom they learn the migration route."
(Best photo to view large! Check out the expressions on these guys tiffing!)
It is beyond comprehension how to feel knowing I am standing before these 9 birds and knowing that I am looking at just about 10% of the eastern population. I also found out that whooping cranes are 2nd on the top 10 endangered species list.
In 1937, fewer than 20 birds remained, all in a population that wintered in Texas.
Today, with efforts made to stop these beautiful creatures from becoming extinct,
there are about 400+ in the wild.