An afternoon with a whooping crane family

By Val Mann – Guest Author

Very early Thursday morning Kim and I packed up Max (our car) and headed three hours north to the whooping cranes’ preferred staging grounds in farmers’ fields and sloughs. It was a warmish, beautiful, sunny day – perfect for a drive in the countryside.

Max doubles as a blind with the camera lenses through open windows. The car is a gold-brown colour and usually coated with a layer of grid road dust – perhaps blending with the golden harvested fields. Whatever the reason, wildlife tend to ignore the car.

Whooping crane

Whooping crane family foraging in the slough. Photo by Val Mann

Just over a grid road hill, a family of whooping cranes, parents and a colt, were foraging in a roadside slough. The family ignored us and continued to feed. At one point, judging from the behaviour, the parents wanted to roost and snooze in the warm prairie afternoon sunshine. Junior showed signs of being bored. After unsuccessfully trying to rouse the parents, the colt went foraging for snacks, wandering towards us. The parents kept a watchful eye on the youngster while they preened, but did not raise alarm. Eventually the colt returned to roost with the parents. Not that long after, a huge grain truck drove by and the cranes flew deep into the fields.

Wow, what an amazing experience to share time with them!

This was not a typical sighting. Normally the cranes are extremely human intolerant and keep at least 500 metres (about 1500 feet) from roads, humans, etc. The middle of a farmer’s field would be the norm.

Please note that we were actually a distance away – on a pullover off the far side of the road. The powerful super telephoto lens and post-production cropping make the birds appear considerably closer than they actually were.

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is very thankful that Val Mann shared her adventure with us. We hope that you enjoyed it and the photos below of the family of wild whooping cranes that she sent along to go with her story. Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge.

Thank you, Val!

Whooping Crane

Junior foraging with parents in the background. Photo by Val Mann


Whooping Crane

Whooping crane family preening together while roosting. Photo by Val Mann


Two whooping cranes: Junior and a parent, in flight. Photo by Val Mann


Whooping Cranes Near Regina, SK Canada

Migrating Whooping Cranes spotted near Regina

On Thursday, April 14, 2016, Fran Kerbs, of Regina SK Canada, and her friend received a tip about two Whooping Cranes being spotted northwest of Regina, SK Canada. Excited by the tip, they headed out to catch them before they continued on in their migration to Wood Buffalo National Park. Staying quite a distance away to observe them, Fran was able to get three short videos of them in the field foraging, bugling, and finally taking flight.

About the videos

Fran told Friends to the Wild Whoopers, (FOTWW), “the first video has their call (in the key of B), and we were happy to be downwind of them to hear them. The middle video is a good one to show how these new “superzoom” cameras can make the whooping cranes appear close when they were actually approx 1.5 miles away.” As you can see in the third video, the whooping cranes decided it was time for them to continue on their northern migration.

Fran sent us the YouTube links to her videos with permission to combine them into one and share it with everyone. FOTWW thanks Fran for the video and we hope you enjoy the whooping cranes near Regina. We certainly did! Thank you, Fran!


Whooping Cranes

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.