How to Identify a Whooping Crane – With the exception of black wing tips (primary feathers) and a black mustache, the body plumage is snow white. Red skin and sparse, black hair-like feathers cover the bird’s crown. Eye color is golden yellow while the bill is yellowish and sometimes tipped with dull green. Visible portions of the legs and toes are black. Juveniles have entirely feathered heads. Juvenile plumage, except for primaries, is whitish and heavily mottled with cinnamon feathers that diminish as the chick ages. The primaries are dullish black. Click here to learn more about Whooping Cranes.
Still not sure which species you observed? There are several birds in North America that resemble cranes and are often mistaken for a crane at first glance (even by biologists!) If you are unsure about what species you are observing, click here for images and descriptions of some birds that are commonly mistaken for cranes.
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