Photographing a Whooping Crane

Editor’s note: Our members and viewers of our web site often write us about their observations of whooping cranes. Some even send us photos. We always appreciate these. We enjoy sharing some of these submissions with you. We just received some photographs from Carol Mattingly. She also wrote about her experience. Her article is posted below.  If you have interesting experiences and photos and would like to have us place them on the web site, please go to our web site  .  Then click on “Report A Sighting” and fill out the form and click “Send”.

Photographing a Whooping Crane

By Carol Mattingly, Carol Mattingly Photography

Turning left onto a two lane dirt farm road, I edged my car just past an unplowed field and there standing in several inches of water picking at the ground in hopes of finding food was a beautiful adult Whooping Crane. How he could possibly find anything to eat in this field made me wonder. This region had just experienced the most severe drought in recorded history just this past summer. The seeds planted in these fields could not possibly have yielded any crops. Possibly weed seeds and insects were there.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and I had made my way to south Indiana just on the other side of a river bridge. The Bottoms is generally what the locals call this area. And after heavy rains the week before, I could see why it is called bottomland. There were large pools of standing water in all of the fields.

And for as far as the eye could see, on this particular Sunday, there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Sandhill Cranes. And standing amongst the Sandhills was this one solitary Whooping Crane. I wondered if it had mated with one of the Sandhill Cranes and would it be traveling with this huge flock of Sandhill Cranes for years to come.

Seeing my first Whooping Crane was a fantastic treat, but getting a fairly decent image of the crane was ever better. I did not want to get too close for fear of frightening the birds. The Whooping Crane stood for some time looking around and I knew that was my opportunity to snap a few images.  I love the way the Sandhill Cranes feathers lay across the back of their rump in a poof. But this Whooping Crane’s white feathers lying across his rump was so beautiful. I wonder if he knew he was the star of the show that Sunday. See my photo below:

Whooping Crane with Sandhill Cranes
photo by Carol Mattingly