As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Rare endangered birds traveling through Oklahoma

In the last two weeks a very rare bird was spotted at Lake Overholser in Oklahoma City - an unusual location for the endangered whooping crane. Standing at nearly five feet tall, the whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America and can be seen passing through the state until mid-November. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is asking state residents to report sightings of this rare bird.

"Just over 300 whooping cranes are en route from their nesting grounds in Canada to their wintering location along the central Texas coast," said Mark Howery, wildlife diversity biologist for the Wildlife Department.

Howery advises Oklahomans to keep watch for the cranes around shallow wetlands, marshes, river bottoms and partially-flooded pastures and grain fields in the western half of the state.

"Whooping cranes typically migrate during the day in groups of one to six birds," Howery said. "They can be identified by their large size, bold white plumage, black tips on their feathers, red and black markings on their heads, and their long legs that extend beyond their tail feathers while in flight and long, stretched neck during flight."

Despite their distinct appearance, they are often confused with the white pelican (short legs with a large band of black feathers along the trailing edge of each wing - not just the tip), snow goose (short legs not visible beyond tail feathers, usually flies in large flocks of 30 or more birds), and great egret (no black feathers on its wings, holds its neck in an S-shape when in flight). Also, during low light or backlit conditions, whooping cranes and sandhill cranes will both appear dark and can look similar.


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