Last Sunday, we decided to head over to Lamar, Texas and see how many whooping cranes we could spot. Three days before we had seen ten but our camera malfunctioned and none of the images turned out, (actually it was operator error as I had not replaced the card).
We passed several spots but did not see any whooping cranes until we reached the field near Big Tree. There we could just spot one whooper past the snowy egrets, black bellied whistling ducks, rosette spoonbills, and sandhill cranes.
Driving to eight street, the whooper pair had both become visible and as we watched we heard the unmistakable call of whoopers. It is a loud double squawk and looking overhead we saw another pair flying overhead.
They dropped down their landing gear and landed away from the first pair.
First hunkering down they hoped that the other pair would leave them alone, but it was all for naught as the first pair stretched their necks straight up and walked quickly, (a long distance), toward the newcomers. Now each adult pair occupies and defends an area of about six hundred acres and guards it against all other whoopers.
The second pair heard them coming and first stuck up their necks to display but as the dominant pair approached, they turned away from them. The dominant male displayed his might as his mate watched from behind and the display was so impressive that the other pair leapt into the air, wanting no part of the fight.
Flying south they allowed us to take some more images finally disappearing over some treetops.
The dominant pair settled down and took a bit of time before they started to feed, their territory was safe.
Later we drove south to the pond on fourth street and there we saw them feeding along with some sand hill cranes.
It was not the closest we have ever been to whooping cranes, but it was the first time we saw two pairs have a face off. The second pair was younger and smaller and so no real fight took place. We feel fortunate to have seen such a territorial dispute. Clear skies