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Rockport, Texas is located 45 minutes south of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. 

The Refuge is the best place to see the "Whoopers" up-close, by guided boat in Matagorda Bay or my land within the refuge.

Whooping Crane Photos             Whooping Crane Report


Whoopers Enjoy Winter Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas

Used with permission and as published in the Dallas Morning News by Kathryn Straach, Special Contributor


The airborne whooping crane group consists of 150+ whooping cranes, one of the rarest animal species in North America.  From late October through mid-April, the world's only wild natural flock of whopping cranes has a winter reservation at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge  (ANWR), about 45 minutes north of Rockport in Austwell, TX.  The small flock of the U.S. continent's tallest bird journeys 2,500 miles south from Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to the protected habitat of this Texas refuge.  In short, these whoopers breed in Canada and reside there in spring and summer, then migrate south in the late fall and winter months.  Although the ANWR is the official winter home for the big birds, it is not necessarily the best place to see them.  The cranes spread out about 35 miles along the coast, with the majority feeding and residing just off U.S. Highway 35N. 


One of the best ways to see Whopping Cranes is to take a boat tour from Rockport or Fulton, a bus tour at the refuge, or from the tall viewing platform the ANWR built for viewing our Whooping Cranes overseeing Matagorda Bay.  Another popular location that provides great viewing is Matagorda Island, managed by ANWR.  The 45 minute boat trip departs from Port O'Connor.  Please see the Birding Tours/Guides page for more detailed trip information. If you're a professional or amateur photography, you'll want to check out our Bird & Nature Photographic Tours page.  Most tours are operated from November 15 - March 31 annually.  Upon occasion, the Whooping Cranes are also visible from the Goose island State Park pier, 10 miles north of Rockport.


The South Texas Gulf Coast climate and food sources create the perfect winter habitat and they relish their blue crabs - in abundance all around the shorelines at ANWR. 


It wasn't that long ago that the population of Whoopers was at an all-time low of 188, largely due to a 10-year cycle.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hopeful that the numbers will turn around and there is already evidence to that affect.  Conditions at the refuge are welcoming to the Whoopers,  but there are a lot of other factors that threaten the birds.  It is getting tougher for the birds all the time and power lines are the biggest threat to them, period.  They fly into them and suffer fatal injuries.


Developments, including the coast's Intracoastal canal and nearby oil and gas projects challenge the birds' future as well.  There is disease, such as West Nile Virus which causes brain inflammation - and not only affects the birds, but humans and horses too.  Whoopers are excellent for beginning birders to view.  Although relatively few in number, they are easy to identify.  The white birds with black wingtips stand about 5 feet tall and their crown is bright red.  In addition to their size, the birds have a loud, resonating call that carries for miles and is responsible for their name.


See our favorite resources and info links below to find out all you need to know about the Whooping Cranes: 

Identification, Songs, Habitats, Breeding, Migration, The Endangered Species Act, and much more. 

Winter Whooperland  


                   The Magnificent Whooping Cranes


 Please support your local organizations and help this magnificent

creature continue to exist in spite of our ever changing world.





The Central & Mississippi Fly Ways are

used by the majority of migratory

birds that visit Rockport each year.

Bird migration is generally thought of as a north-and-south movement, with the lanes of heavier concentration following the coasts, mountain ranges and principal river valleys. In general, it may be said that the great routes of migration do conform very closely to major topographical features when these happen to lie in the general direction of the travel to be performed. 

The terms "migration route" and "flyway" are to some extent theoretical concepts, while the latter has, in addition, come to have an administrative meaning. Migration routes may be defined as the lanes of individual travel from any particular breeding ground to the winter quarters of the birds that use them. Flyways, on the other hand, may well be conceived as those broader areas in which related migration routes are associated or blended in a definite geographic region. They are wide arterial highways to which the routes are tributaries.


Click here to find out more

about Migration Routes!



Make Plans to see Whooping Crane at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.



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