Sweet home Alabama – Whooping Cranes love our state

Photo by: George Lee
Photo by: George Lee

In the coming month, the Whooping Crane, one of the rarest birds in North America will be returning to Alabama.

Yes, that’s right, for Whooping Cranes our state is  – Sweet Home Alabama.

Brink of Extinction

In the 1940s, Whooping Cranes were on the brink of extinction.  In 1941, only 21 cranes lived in the wild and two in captivity.

For over seven decades, scientists and crane advocates have been working on saving the whooping crane.  Today, there are more than 450 Whooping Cranes in the wild.  The whooping crane remains listed as an endangered species, but fortunately it’s population is continuing to grow because of the persistent efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and advocacy groups such as the International Crane Foundation.

Alabama – Whooping Crane’s home in the east

So, why is Alabama important when it comes to the Whooping Crane’s  survival ?  The bird loves our state.

At about this time of year, late November and into December, the Whooping Cranes leave Wisconsin and journey south to spend their winter.  East of the Mississippi River only about 100 Whooping Cranes migrate to the region.  Their number one destination? Alabama.

Presently, 20 to 30 Whooping Cranes winter in Alabama, primarily on the grounds and around the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge area.

Additional facts about Whooping Crane:

Named for their distinctive whooping calls, the Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America and one of its most endangered. Standing at over five feet tall, the bird is covered in white plumage, accented with black tipped wings and a striking red crown. Whooping Cranes establish lifelong mates and maintain their bonds through courtship dances and displays.

Photo by - International Crane Foundation
Photo by – International Crane Foundation

How can you help the Whooping Cranes in Alabama?

Support the International Crane Foundation’s “I Give a Whoop” campaign.

Visit the “I Give a Whoop” website.  Take the pledge. Share on social media or printout the identification guide below.

You can also contact Lizzie Condon, the International Crane Foundation’s point person on the ground here in Alabama. She has a “toolbox” of projects that can help you and your community protect and save the Whooping Crane.  Lizzie’s can be reached at econdon@savingcranes.org

International Crane Foundation's mascot "Hope"
International Crane Foundation’s mascot “Hope”
International Crane Foundation
Graphic by: International Crane Foundation



Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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