Whooping cranes nearly vanished in the mid-20th century, with a 1941 count finding only 16 living birds. But since then, these endangered animals have taken a step back from the brink of extinction. Captive breeding programs have boosted their numbers, and successful reintroduction efforts have raised the number of wild birds to over 200, with roughly the same number living in captivity.
These majestic white birds are the tallest in North America. They live in family groups and frequent marshes, shallow lakes, and lagoons. Cranes feed by foraging with their bills and gobbling up plants, shellfish, insects, fish, and frogs.
Average life span in the wild: 22 to 24 years
Size: Body, 4.9 ft (1.5 m); wingspan, 7.5 ft (2.3 m)
Weight: 13.3 to 17.2 lbs (6 to 7.8 kg)
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