From Texas Public Radio:
Three gangly white birds are prodding the marsh with their long beaks at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. And on this Sunday morning, they have an audience. Peering through the rapid shutter snaps of zoom lenses, a flock of bird watchers are enjoying a rare whooping crane performance.
“Two parents and a young colt that was hatched this summer and they came down to spend the winter in the Aransas Pass National Refuge,” says Pat White, a bird watcher who lives near Rockport.
“Right now, they are just foraging for wolf berries. That’s one of their main sources of food — blue crabs and wolf berries,” she says.
Patty Berry, an enthusiastic birder who traveled from St. Louis to see the “whoopers,” is among the group.
“I’m anticipating that we’re going to see more whooping cranes and at closer range and that’s always good because we like the photography angle of it too,” she says. “So what our lenses can’t get us the boat will hopefully get us.”.
The endangered whooping crane is the tallest North American bird and is named for its distractive “whooping” call.
Skimmer Captain Tommy Moore leads the birding tour and gives a play-by-play about the local environment, from exotic birds to dolphins playing in the boat’s wake.
“There are two to three hundred of these dolphins in the immediate bay system, according to state fisheries,“ said Moore over the boat’s intercom.
But it’s the whooping cranes that people come from around the planet to see. This is the only wild migrating reproducing flock of whoopers in the world, and Moore said this year they are looking good.