Whooping Crane Numbers Drop
Now is the time for whooping cranes to depart the Texas coast line and start their migration to Canada. This season, fewer of the already endangered bird are leaving Texas. Tom Harvery is with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“Scientists say that this winter was the worst on record in terms of bird deaths for the last remaining flock of wild whooping cranes. We had twenty-one whoppers who died this past winter. There were two-hundred-and-seventy that came to Texas last fall, so the upshot is only two-hundred-and-forty-nine will now be returning to Canada this spring”, said Mr. Harvery.
The primary factor behind the crane deaths is believed to be poor habitat conditions on the Texas coast line. Low rain fall in two-thousand-eight resulted in fewer blue crabs, which are the cranes’ main food source.
Mr. Harvery again: “Draught in Texas is a big problem for people and wildlife and here we see an example that could be related to draught and it really underscores the need for people to plan for the future to have enough water, and also to conserve water.”
The whooping crane is the largest and tallest bird in North America. Towns on the gulf coast of Texas rely on it to attract birdwatchers and generate tourism.