Distinguishing Sandhill cranes from Whooping cranes.
Since whooping cranes are occurring more frequently in Kansas, especially at Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and their surrounding areas, waterfowl hunters must be able to identify the endangered Whooping crane (only a few hundred exist in the wild). Whooping cranes (Grus americana) and Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) are similar in size and shape. Therefore it is important to be able to distinguish them. Sandhill cranes generally have grey plumage with a red forehead and crown and a white cheek patch; whereas, Whooping cranes have white plumage with red forehead and cheeks, and have black wing tips that are only visible in flight.
The penalty for shooting a whooping crane is a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to one year in prison. Kansas is the only state in the Central Flyway to have delayed shooting hours to help protect whooping cranes. Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area have contingency plans if whooping cranes are present during hunting seasons and can be reached for information online. Hunters can visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism to take the online test to get their federal sandhill crane hunting permit, which has help for identifying Sandhill cranes plus download a brochure for identifying Whooping cranes and distinguishing them from other similar species.
For an excellent album of Sandhill crane photos visit Nigel Winnu https://www.flickr.com/photos/winnu/sets/72157603860826307/
For an excellent album of Whooping crane photos visit http://www.arkive.org/whooping-crane/grus-americana/image-G113760.html
by Ted Beringer