The Life and Times of the Whooping Crane
The whooping crane is one of the world's rarest and most interesting birds. Whooping cranes have been around for several million years. They once lived in an area from central Canada, south to Mexico, and from Utah to the Atlantic coast, including southern Wisconsin. Biologists think that in 1865 there were between 700-1,400 whooping cranes in North America. Early explorers and settlers recorded whooping cranes in six Canadian provinces, 35 U.S. states, and four Mexican states.
The whooping crane population dropped quickly when these shy birds lost their habitat to settlers who began to use the land for farming. At the same time, hunting and egg collecting were also affecting the crane population. By 1938, only two small flocks were left. One group of birds was a non-migratory population in Louisiana. The other group was a population that migrated between Canada and Texas. By 1950, the Louisiana population was gone, and there were less than 20 birds in the migratory popuation. All of today's whooping cranes are descendants of those few migratory birds from Canada that survived.
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