Stehn's reply to the report
whooper sighting (4/7/06)
most likely were viewing white pelicans in migration.
It is extremely difficult to tell whooping cranes and white pelicans
apart at a distance when they are flying. Wing shape, color, and
the spirial flight pattern are all identical. Both have black
wing tips. You have to be able to see features such as neck, beak,
or trailing legs to differentiate the two. At a distance, those
features aren't visible without a spotting scope.
big difference between the two species is that pelicans migrate
in large groups, and whooping cranes do not. They typically migrate
as singles, pairs, family groups (3 or 4), or small groups of
no more than 8 birds. If you were seeing 10 or more birds, then
they were pelicans.
were perfect conditions for migration across Texas, mostly sunny
skies and strong SE winds!
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