Many years ago driving across the country I caught a glimpse of a whooping crane on migration. Ever since then, I have wanted to get a better look at this endangered bird. I decided this was the year, and am just back from the 20th annual Port Aransas whooping crane festival,
The population was probably originally about 20,000 birds, but plummeted to around 20 wild birds by 1941. Today there are 599 wild and captive birds, with efforts to increase and expand the population. I was grateful to share my boat trip to see the cranes with George Archibald, famous for dancing with a whooping crane to encourage her to lay eggs, and more recently as co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, focused on efforts to protect cranes worldwide. Without his work, it is possible I never would have had the chance to see these magnificent cranes.
They are impressive, the tallest North American bird at five feet tall and with a wingspan of seven and a half feet. Though this photo is taken at a distance and the details may be lost on Instagram, the bird in the foreground is eating a crab, its main dietary staple while wintering in Texas. People visiting the Texas coast also enjoy the warm winter sunshine and eating fresh seafood! I felt fortunate to spend a few hours in the company of these rare and elegant birds, sharing a world where I hope we can continue to coexist.