Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Larry Dalton and Laura Romin
Photo Copyright Larry Dalton and Laura Romin

The whooping crane, Grus americana, is native to the eastern and central areas of North America. Due to a severe decline in whooping crane numbers in its native range, an artificially established whooping crane population was begun in the mid-1970s in the Rocky Mountain area. Whooping crane eggs were placed in sandhill crane nests, and the young were raised by sandhill cranes after the eggs hatched. These whooping cranes migrated with sandhill cranes through Utah, on a journey from nesting grounds in Idaho to wintering grounds in New Mexico, until early 2002, when the last of these whooping cranes is believed to have died. Whooping cranes are Federally listed as endangered, but the population that migrated through Utah was designated "nonessential-experimental."

The whooping crane can be found primarily in wetlands, but pastures and cultivated fields are also preferred habitats. Whooping cranes feed on invertebrates, including crabs and clams, grains, berries, and even vertebrates, including fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. The species breeds in early May, eggs hatch in about one month, and the average clutch size is two. Major threats to the whooping crane include loss of habitat (especially wetland habitat) and collisions with power lines.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.