It’s not often that you drive by a field and come upon two of the rarest birds in North America. When they are super-close and you can get head shots, it’s a really good day!
The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America. It is a cousin of our Sandhill Cranes. In the early 1900s, there were only 21-22 Whooping Cranes alive. Thanks to intense conservation efforts, there are around 600 Whooping Cranes alive today. Two of them like this particular field in Lake Wales. I saw them there a couple of years ago and they looked pretty much the same in 2020, even down to the broken radio transponders on their legs.
Of course the birds were heavily backlit in this rare opportunity to be so close to them. The best light I could find was harsh side-light, which totally blew out their beautiful white feathers. Look at that gorgeous red head. I wonder if the birds realize how rare and special they are.