Photo Ark: Whooping Crane

Photo Ark: Whooping Crane

Endangered but Enduring: The Whooping Crane's Return to the Wild


4 - 9


Biology, Conservation, Geography

NGS Resource Carousel Loading Logo
Loading ...

At nearly 1.5-meters (five feet) tall, the whooping crane (Grus americana) stands as North America's tallest bird. These long-necked, long-legged birds are easily identified by their striking white feathers and red crown. They travel over long distances from Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas and play an important role in wetlands by eating insects and small animals. Whooping cranes are named for their loud, whooping calls that can be heard up to 3.2 kilometers (two miles) away.

In the past, unrestricted hunting reduced the whooping crane population. Their habitat disappeared as humans took over areas where they nest and travel in winter. By the 1940s, whooping crane numbers fell to fewer than 20 birds, and they were in danger of disappearing forever. In the late 1960s, they were listed as endangered, but a breeding program began to increase their numbers. By 2010, there were around 500 whooping cranes, with most living in the wild. While climate change and habitat loss are still threats to these special birds, they are slowly returning to the wild where they belong.

Articles & Profiles
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Corinne Rucker, National Geographic Society
Sara Nachtigal, Ph.D., Educurious
Hanna Jaramillo, M.S. Ed., Educurious
Latia White, Ed.D., Inclusive Innovation Researcher, Global Inclusive Learning Design Reviewer
Rights Clearance
Jean Cantu, National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Patrick Cavanagh, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

March 5, 2024

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.