What do whooping cranes eat?

Whooping cranes are opportunists, eating a variety of food that ranges from plants, such as waste grain, acorns, marsh onions and prairie lilies, and animals including snakes, minnows, mice and voles, grasshoppers, snails, shrimp, crayfish, clams and many others.  The whooping cranes favorite food, however, is the blue crab.  They can eat up to 80 of these creatures in a day! To see a relative of the blue crab, the dungeness crab, click here.  Whooping cranes drink the water from the ponds that they find their food in.

Young whooping cranes eat insects, aquatic invertebrates and berries .  The female (which passes about half of the food caught by her) feeds the young most of the time, while the male will occasionally feed them.  While in captivity, however, the young are fed by a human in a crane costume, which has to be worn the minute the chick hatches from their egg so the chick does not imprint on humans.  As you can see from the picture, attached to one of the arms of the costume is a fake head of an adult whooping crane, which is where the young whooping crane will feed from.

Whooping cranes forage for food throughout the day.  The adult male is typically the defender of the whooping cranes' territory, while the female and young stay together the most out of the pair.

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