What to do if you see a Whooping Crane

Report Whooping Crane Observations Whooping Crane Reporting Website.

If you encounter a whooping crane in the wild, please give them the respect and distance they need. Do not approach birds on foot within 200 yards; remain in your vehicle; do not approach in a vehicle any closer than 100 yards. Also, please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you. Finally, do not trespass on private property in an attempt to view or photograph whooping cranes.

Joe Duff, the project’s lead ultralight pilot, said it best during an interview: “Although we take special precautions to ensure these birds are reared in isolation from human contact, they are still far from wild. Their return to nature takes place over months but could be destroyed by one curious onlooker. Despite good intentions the best thing an observer could do for these birds and this project is to observe from a distance. The worst thing you could do is attempt to feed them. “

Each exposure lessens the whooping cranes’ natural fear of humans, which is an important survival mechanism. Feeding the whooping cranes can result in the birds becoming dependent on humans as a source of food. Both would negate the many long hours biologists, veterinarians, pilots and volunteers endured in hot costumes and silence while raising and caring for these whooping cranes.

Reporting Whooping Crane Sightings 

We would appreciate you reporting your sighting on our online website at: https://www.savingcranes.org/report-a-banded-crane/. Thank you!

Reporting Whooping Crane Sightings to Others (on ListServs, Partner Facebook pages, etc.)

The nine public lands listed below are common WCEP summering, wintering, and stopover locations. When birds are present at these sites, WCEP partners may include the name of the refuge/park in outreach materials and presentations—press releases, websites, Facebook, etc. When WCEP cranes are present at other public sites, only the birds’ county-level location may be shared with the public.

As bird movements and releases evolve, the Monitoring & Management Team and Communications & Outreach Team will revisit and/or update the list of sites as needed.

The nine sites meet one or both of the following criteria:

  1.  A location that is/was used as a release site
  2.  A large area where birds typically remain on the property, and
  3.  Has limited public access, and
  4.  Is used by numerous sandhill cranes


  1.    Necedah NWR
  2.    Horicon NWR
  3.    White River Marsh SWA


  1.    Chassahowitzka NWR
  2.    St. Marks NWR
  3.    Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park


  1.    Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge, TN
  2.    Wheeler NWR, AL
  3.    Goose Pond State Fish and Wildlife Area, IN