Texas is the winter home of a very special kind of bird. Whooping cranes are the tallest birds in North America. Their wing span is nearly eight feet wide. Their feathers are white except for black wing tips. They have bright yellow eyes and a patch of red skin on their heads.
Including birds living in zoos, there are only about 530 whooping cranes in the entire world. This year, 288 whoopers flew back to Texas. The flock included 21 chicks that were born this spring.
In the summer, whoopers live in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. Every fall, they fly 2,400 miles to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. Aransas is located on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Whoopers arrive in Texas around November. They live in the marsh land along the Gulf Coast. They eat blue crabs and crawfish.
In April, the whoopers fly back to Canada. They build their nests and raise their babies there. When the air turns cold in Canada, they fly once again to their Texas winter home.
For more information on whooping cranes, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/whooper/ . You can also read my mom's story about whoopers by checking out this book from your library: Milkweed Edition's Stories from Where We Live: The Gulf Coast.