Whooping Cranes Reappear in Alabama
By Alabama Public Radio
Belle Mina, AL – An endangered species has made an appearance in Alabama for the first time in more than 100 years. A biologist at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge says three whooping cranes were spotted in mid-December during the annual Christmas Bird Count. The white birds have black legs and faces and traditionally migrate from Canada to the Texas coast. But Wheeler biologist Bill Gates says he began watching for the birds in Alabama in 2003 after an effort to establish a new migratory flock to Floriday. Airplanes that resemble hang gliders take different routes and lead the birds along the new flight path. Hunting and loss of habitat reduced the birds' population to less than 20 in the early 1940s. There are currently about 300 whooping cranes in existence.