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Coping With Cold February 3, 2015
Not all of the eastern flock's cranes are wintering in warmth. An estimated 26-29 Whooping Cranes are now in Indiana, 7 in Kentucky, 10 in Tennessee, 34 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia and 13 in Florida. Some of them are "seeing their breath" in states where it's snowy and cold. They can handle it. Cranes stay grounded and face into the wind to avoid ruffling their feathers and keep feathers lying smoothly against the body. This preserves warmth and waterproofing. Enough food, such as leftovers in corn fields, and protection from wind allow cranes to tolerate cold weather. Even at the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin, the captive cranes are not locked indoors until the temperature hits -40 degrees F, or the wind chill is -40 F! "But if they are already inside, we do shut them in at -10 F," says ICF's Eva Szyszkoski.

Image: Ted Thousand
Crane exhaling cold air that makes a cloud of condensation