Texas Nature Trackers
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
(800) 792-1112 ext. 8062
Texas Whooper Watch: Is it a Whooping Crane?
There are many birds, that at a distance, appear similar to Whooping Cranes. Review the following checklist to help you in identification. To see bird species that can be mistaken for Whooping Cranes, visit Whooping Crane Look-alikes.
- HEIGHT Whooping Cranes stand nearly 5 feet tall. They will be the tallest bird you see.
- COLOR adult birds have bodies that are pure white except for a red patch on the head and a black mustache. Juvenile birds will have rusty feathers with the white.
- WINGS the wingtips (primary feathers) are black in Whooping Cranes, but black does not extend all the way along the wing edge to the body. Wingspan is 7-1/2 feet.
- FLIGHT Whooping Cranes fly with long necks and long legs fully extended. Wingbeats are slow and steady.
- FLOCK Whooping Cranes usually travel and feed in small groups from one to eight or ten birds. They may sometimes travel with Sandhill Cranes, but never as a large flock of Whooping Cranes.
- VOICE whoopers are known for their loud, bugling call. In flight they may produce a deep trill, similar to sandhill cranes.
- WHEN Whooping Cranes do not arrive in Texas until mid-October and are gone from the state by late April.
- WHERE Whoopers are usually seen in the areas of Texas shown below, although there may be possible sightings in southeast Texas. It is not necessary to report cranes that are seen while visiting Aransas National Wildlife Refuge or while participating in whooping crane tours.