Species at Risk
What is the status of the Whooping Crane?
Whooping cranes are white with black wingtips. This characteristic can only be seen in flight.
© Parks Canada / W. Lynch / 09.90.10.02 (95) / 2002
Whooping cranes are classified as endangered by the COSEWIC. The population of the Wood Buffalo – Aransas flock is 263 as of December 2010. The world population of whooping cranes is 568 as of December 2010. This number includes captive birds, a non-migratory flock in Florida, an introduced migratory flock (Wisconsin-Florida), and the Wood Buffalo-Aransas wild migratory flock.
Why is the Whooping Crane in danger?
At up to 1.5 m in height, the whooping cranes are the tallest birds in North America - and they nest in North America's largest national park, Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada!
Whooping cranes used to range across much of central North America, from the southern coast of Texas as far north as the Northwest Territories. Though never abundant, their numbers were thought to be around 1500 in the mid-1800’s. Human settlement subsequently destroyed much of their nesting habitat, and by 1941 the population had dropped to an all-time low of 21 birds. At that time the location of their northern nesting grounds was unknown. It wasn’t until 1954 that the nesting grounds were discovered in a remote corner of Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada. There can be no doubt that the birds’ seclusion during their sensitive nesting period is what saved them from total extinction.