Revisiting the Whooping Crane

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Whooping Crane at sunset

I recently traveled back to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge after hearing reports that the Whooping Crane was roaming closer to the road, allowing birders a better view. That was not necessarily the case for my second visit to see it. However, I did get the chance to get a slightly better view as the sunset.  Along the way, I also spotted the below Red-tailed Hawk while a group of Northern Shovelers swam in water located just across the road from the Whooping Crane.

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Red-tailed Hawk Holla Bend WNR 111319.JPG
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Shoveler Holla Bend WNR 111319.JPG
Northern Shovelers

Whooping Crane

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For several weeks, a whooping crane has been spotted at Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge. I finally got a chance to go find him – and while I didn’t get the best photo – I am excited to say I’ve now seen my first whooping crane in Arkansas. Yay!

Whooping cranes, one of North America’s largest birds, are endangered. According to the Audubon Society, they were once pretty widespread on the northern prairies; however, they went nearly extinct in the 1940s. Strict protection has since brought the whooping crane population to over 100. When one is spotted in Arkansas, the birding community gets pretty darn excited.

Holla Bend eagle search


January is Eagle Awareness Month in Arkansas. To celebrate, I attended the Eagle Awareness Weekend at Petit Jean State Park. Bald Eagle numbers in the lower 48 states have now increased from 417 nesting pairs in 1967 to more than 10,000 nesting pairs in recent years. However, this still hasn’t helped me reach my goal of seeing an adult Bald Eagle.

The Bald Eagle gained federal protection in 1940 and its population was severely threatened by the widespread use of the pesticide DDT after World War II. DDT caused Bald eagles to lay eggs with weakened shells.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed the Bald Eagle’s status from endangered to threatened in 1995. In 2007, the Bald Eagle was taken off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

One of the two juvenile Bald Eagles spotted within feet of each other.
The second of two juvenile Bald Eagles that we saw. I was unable to get closer.

To accomplish my goal, Petit Jean park rangers took a group including my aunt and I to nearby Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, a 7,055 acre refuge that was established in 1957 as a result of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation and flood control project. Continue reading “Holla Bend eagle search”