I have never seen a whooping crane in my life. I am happy to know where I can drive to see one this fall. My life has witnessed the resurgence of wildlife after extinctions and extripations. I am content to see all the worried dialog of my youth becoming the dialog of guarded optimism in my middle age.
The nineteen forties must have been a migratory bird apocalypse because Canadian Geese, Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes had fallen to absurdly low levels. For the Whooping Cranes, that meant twenty one in the wild and two in captivity. As of 2011, the crane counters have found 437 in the wild and the crane keepers have 165 in captivity.
If we had six hundred total last year, and we had three hundred breeding couples last year, maybe we had three hundred to six hundred added to the ranks in 2011. Alas, for each couple, often only one child crane survives to adulthood, so maybe our population has jumped over a thousand by today, after the Spring 2012 breeding season. Would you like to know the reason I am hung up on Whooping Cranes today? Out of that small population, a few have made their way to Michigan, some showing up among the Sandhill Cranes at Phyllis Haehnle Sanctuary near Jackson.
Our understanding of this ancient bird that almost became history, almost became lore, has just begun to accumulate. A pair of Whooping Cranes will make a joint call, the unison call, early in the morning. The call defends territory but also keeps the courtship moving forward. The first unison call was recorded in December 1999, at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Corpus Christi, Texas. Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside this 114,657 acre in December of 1937. Instead of shooting at Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes, people pop up bag chairs and watch them land as dark settles. Hunters can take other birds sustainably, and I'll gladly toast their hunting successes at the feasting table. However, let's take a hundred years to bring the cranes back.
I'm thinking on volunteering to count cranes next April. I am also thinking of hunting wild boar in Texas too, which are great in number.
April is the counting month:
Save the date for the 2013 count on Saturday, April 13 from 5:30 am to 7:30 am CDT.
Wild Hog Hunting in Waelder, Texas. It's a Christian Ministry.
The Whooping Crane, Grus americana at the Calgary zoo.
11 September 2010
11 September 2010