Whoop­ing cranes

RICHARD ZAIDAN, visi­tor ex­pe­ri­ence man­ager

Canadian Geographic - - WOOD BUFFALO - —As told to Jes­sica Finn

Wood Buf­falo was es­tab­lished 32 years be­fore we even knew the whoop­ing cranes were here. Their sum­mer breed­ing area is very iso­lated, so it was luck that they were pro­tected by a na­tional park. You can’t just walk in to see them, be­cause it’s so marshy and wet. At one point, the park had the only whoop­ing cranes in the world, with just over 20 in­di­vid­u­als. Last year, there were 82 nests — the most on record — and now there are 308 birds — Earth’s only self-sus­tain­ing wild flock. They nest, raise their young and fly al­most 4,000 kilo­me­tres to the Gulf of Mexico and Texas to win­ter. It’s pretty rare even for staff here to see them, but four years ago, I saw my first crane at the salt plains, which you can drive to. Since then, there have been cranes there quite con­sis­tently.

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