Whooping Crane Day Date in the current year: May 28, 2024

Whooping Crane Day Bird lovers and conservation enthusiasts observe Whooping Crane Day annually on May 28. It was created to celebrate the tallest bird in North America, raise awareness of its endangered status, and promote whooping crane conservation.

The whooping crane (Grus americana) is one of the only two crane species native to the North American continent, the other one being the sandhill crane. It is the world’s fifth largest extant crane species and the tallest North American bird. The whooping crane stands almost 1.5 meters tall and has a 2 meter wingspan. Adult whooping cranes are white with a red crown and black wing tips that are visible during flight, while their young are cinnamon brown.

The whooping crane is believed to have never been particularly numerous. Its population was about 10,000+ birds before European colonization, but it quickly declined due to overhunting and habitat destruction once Europeans settled in North America. There were no more than 1,400 whooping cranes left on the continent by 1870 and fewer than 30 birds by 1938. After a hurricane in Louisiana that killed half of the state’s non-migratory population of the whooping crane, there were just 21 whooping cranes left in the wild by 1941, plus two in captivity.

American environmentalist and ornithologist Robert Porter Allen began working on saving the whooping crane in 1946. He studied whooping cranes closely to learn the causes of the decline in their population and figure out the ideal conditions for their reproduction with the intention of replicating these conditions for breeding whooping cranes in captivity and then reintroducing them into the wild.

Unfortunately, Allen’s efforts to breed whooping cranes in captivity weren’t successful, but he did help raise awareness of the plight of the whooping crane, a majestic bird pushed to the brink of extinction, and promote its conservation. In 1961, the Whooping Crane Conservation Organization was founded to educate the general public about the whooping crane and influence political decisions on wildlife conservation.

The population of the whooping crane has since increased to a little over 800 birds in the wild and managed populations. While reintroduction efforts did have some success, it was limited due to illegal hunting, as well as nest and brood predators (adult cranes have few predators due to their large size, but their eggs and young are vulnerable to eagles, cougars, foxes, wolves, and other predators). So it is important to continue raising awareness of the whooping crane and support conservation efforts; Whooping Crane Day was created to do just that.

Whooping Crane Day is observed by zoos, sanctuaries and conservation organizations across North America. They organize various events to raise public awareness of the whooping crane and raise funds for conservation programs. You can observe Whooping Crane Day by learning more about these amazing birds, checking out whooping cranes at your local zoo, donating to a conservation organization that helps preserve the whooping crane, and spread the word on social media using the hashtag #WhoopingCraneDay.

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