National Park System sites are great places to enjoy watching wildlife, so it pays to be alert for unusual birds and animals during any park visit. Even the most avid bird-watcher would have been surprised, however, by sightings last month of three adult whooping cranes at the Natchez Trace Parkway.
It was the parkway's first confirmed sighting of the rare birds, which were feeding in a agricultural field drainage ditch along the northern part of the Parkway. Although that may sound like an unlikely spot for such an unusual bird,whooping cranes (Grus americana) are described as "aquatic birds, spending virtually all of the time in wetlands."
The cranes are certainly distinctive; the tallest birds in
North America, adults stand about five feet
tall and have bright white plumage and black wingtips which are visible when
they fly. Whooping
cranes take their name from their distinctive whooping call and
are the rarest of the world's 15 crane species; they occur only in North America.