One of the rarest birds in North America will be flying into Oklahoma very soon.
Whooping cranes will be migrating through and if you see one, the Oklahoma Wildlife Department wants to be notified. There are only about 500 whooping cranes in North America and at any time now, almost all of them will be coming through Oklahoma.
Whooping cranes are known for the whooping sound they make and their height. At 5 feet tall, it's the tallest bird in North America.
“It’s extremely exciting to see them,” explains Jena Donnell with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “They are a massive bird and they’re really beautiful.”
For 50 days every year, the birds migrate 2,500 miles from Canada down to South Texas. They typically come through Oklahoma between mid-October and early November.
You can recognize them because their height, long necks, and the black spot on their wrists when they fly. They look very much like their cousin the sandhill crane except they are white.
The whooping cranes also sometimes travel with sandhill cranes. They are usually in groups of two to eight birds.
“It’s definitely time for them to be coming through,” says Donnell.
The cranes are usually spotted in lakes, wetlands and sometimes in big open fields.
Due to whooping cranes being endangered, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife would like to know about it if you see one, so they can send a biologist to check it out.
“We’re just making sure that we’re doing everything we can for the species,” says Donnell.
The birds are usually out in Western Oklahoma, but some have been spotted in Oklahoma City.
To report a sighting fill out the online report form at wildlifedepartment.com. Be sure to have the date, specific location of the sighting, as well as the number of birds seen and any applicable band information (color or number sequence). You can also call a biologist at 580-571-5820 or 405-990-7259.