Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings are expected to increase in coming weeks as they make their way through North Dakota.
Anyone who spots one of the endangered birds is asked to report the sighting, so the birds can be tracked.
The whooping cranes that travel through the state in spring are part of a population of about 500 birds on their way from wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles, according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Whooping cranes stand about 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of about 7 feet from tip to tip. The birds are bright white with black wingtips that are visible only when the wings are outspread. Whooping cranes usually migrate singly, or in groups of two to three birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.
Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location and the birds' activity. Observers also should look for and report colored identification bands, which may be on one or both legs.
Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466; Audubon, 701-442-5474; Game and Fish headquarters in Bismarck, 701-328-6300; or to local game wardens across the state.