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.
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.
I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.