The Big Whoop-ing

The Whooping Crane at home in Wisconsin
In 1941 there were only 41 Whooping Cranes left in the world.

Still endangered in 2016, but the world-wide population is approaching 600.

At the International Crane Foundation, the tallest birds in North America is the star of the yard.

The day of our visit, we were fortunate to be the only humans in the viewing amphitheater with a close look at the pair in their habitat.

I was struck by the brightness of the feathers.  A brilliant white so amazing, it looked as they bathed in bleach.  Of course, they didn't.

Maybe it was the brightness of the feathers which made the birds so attractive to hunters and milliners (hat makers).

Just two are currently in the spotlight.  Many more are back in Crane City.  Researchers and scientists hoping to expand the breed nurture the birds from chick to fledgling.

But recently I learned while the Whooping Crane population has rebounded a bit, there is an unusual problem.

The young birds, many of whom learn from disguised humans (so the birds don't imprint on them and associate people with food), are missing out on a key piece of education.

There might be some innate awareness of the birds and bees, but without adult examples to witness... the young don't know what to do what is thought to happen naturally!

The two birds on display either can't fly or just love the Baraboo area - there was no net above their home.

They sorted through the underwater buffet in the marsh area of their pond.  Later, they climbed over the berm to explore the grassland.

Like the Bald Eagle - there is something majestic, elegant, and important about the Whooping Crane.

These birds were nearly erased from the face of the earth.  It's been an improbable comeback by the plucky crane and hard-working humans dedicated to reverse decades of overhunting and loss of habitat.

It's a better world with these creatures.

It helps their cause and may save their lives to be such beauties.

Most of the world's cranes remain on life-support.  They need conservation minded people who encourage governments to preserve and encourage proper habitat.

The birds need financial support for scientists to help the rebuilding efforts and aid the cranes fight for life.

In the meantime, I suggest you find your way to the International Crane Foundation, either in person or through their website to see these birds and learn what the Big Whoop is all about.