The period when Whooping Cranes migrate through Nebraska is here. Whooping Cranes migrate from breeding sites at Wood Buffalo Park, Canada, to their wintering sites at and near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, every fall. In four to six weeks, hopefully the entire Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock of about 300 birds has successfully migrated to Texas. Migrating 2,500 miles is risky business and this is a critical few weeks for these birds. NGPC, along with our partners, rely on the public to help us track these state and federally endangered birds as they stopover in our state. I know a lot of eyes will be out and about over the next few weeks enjoying Nebraska’s outdoors. If you think you see a Whooping Crane, please do two things:
Report the sighting to NGPC (I provide contact information at the end of this post).
Do not approach or harass Whooping Cranes for any reason.
Every migration, we receive reports of Whooping Cranes that end up being some other species. That is OK, we appreciate folks providing reports even when they are not absolutely certain. Nevertheless, reviewing Whooping Crane identification and familiarizing everyone with similar species regularly reported as Whooping Cranes may be beneficial. Below, I provide a series of photographs of Whooping Cranes and similar species and provide a few identification tips. All the photographs were taken in Nebraska by me (Joel Jorgensen). Thus, all of these species may be encountered in our state.
If you happen to observe Whooping Cranes in Nebraska, please contact one of the following NGPC offices (I have left off a few offices outside of Whooping Cranes traditional migratory corridor):
North Platte: 308-535-8025
Also, you can contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 308-382-6468.
If it is a weekend or after hours, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.