Whooping Cranes Return
Schedule a Tour! Wings of Winter Birding Guide Promises to Showcase the Beautiful Birds of Mustang Island:
The annual festival is canceled this year due to the pandemic, but the whooping cranes don't know that! They are still returning to Mustang Island, and you can schedule a birding tour with some experts who can show you all the hot spots for viewing these elegant creatures. Or, take a self-guided tour with the Wings of Winter -- Port Aransas 2021 Winter Birding Guide, which shows you maps of all the best spots to see them.
The Guide also quotes George Archibald, co-founder of the International Whooping Crane Foundation, about why tourists and serious birders alike are drawn to these shorebirds: "This winter you have an opportunity to see the whooping cranes, birds of the superlative; the tallest and one of the loudest birds on our continent; one of the rarest birds worldwide; and without a doubt one of the most fascinating--cloaked in glistening white with black wingtips and a red cap, dancing and dueting, and like the rest of us, relishing blue crabs."
Each winter, the statuesque birds spend time at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. They stand five feet tall, and their wings stretch seven to eight feet, according to the Guide. Named for a"whooping" call that can be heard up to two miles away, the population of cranes travels 2,500 miles from summer nesting grounds in Canada.They arrive in the marshlands around the wildlife refuge in October, drawn by the abundance of berries, insects and blue crabs. They'll start their return trip in March.
Register for Wings of Winter Walking Tours
You can reserve FREE ticket(s) for walking tours with experts at whoopingcranefestival.org for the following dates:
-Sun., Feb. 7: Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, 10 a.m.-Noon
-Sat., Feb. 13: Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
-Sun. Feb. 14: Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, 10 a.m.-Noon
-Sat., Feb. 20: Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.
-Sun., Feb. 21: Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond, 9-11 a.m.; Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture, 9-11 a.m.; Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, 10 a.m.-Noon
-Sat., Feb. 27: Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, 9-11 a.m.
-Sun., Feb. 28: Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, 1, 10 a.m.-Noon\
Book a Charter
Try these charters recommended by the festival and tour organizers.
-Mustang Boat Tours. dolphinwatchwatchnaturetours.net
-Rockport Birding & Kayak Adventures, whoopingcranetour.com
-Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventures, scarletladydolphincruise.com
-Wharf Cat, fishermanswharfporta.com
Take a Self-Guided Tour
The Wings of Winter birding guide also offers maps and information for taking in the incredible guest population of cranes on your own time. Download a copy of the Wings of Winter guide at whoopingcranefestival.org.
Go Birding: Book Your Stay
Enjoy a winter weekend at Cinnamon Shore and plan your birding excursion. The festival organizers say you're almost sure to see other birds besides the cranes, including:
- Roseate Spoonbill
- Black-Bellied Whistling Duck
- Black-Neck Stilt
- American White Pelican
- Ruddy Duck
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Photos: Whooping Crane Festival
Published by Jennifer Chappell Smith
Saturday, January 23, 2021