We have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2013 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 12 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

Recently,  I was able to participate in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge with my Junior Naturalist group.    We volunteer every year to help identify and check off the birds we see.  It was very cold that day, but we were all prepared and had lots of layers of clothes on along with our binoculars, scope, bird guides, and checklists.  We were able to find almost 30 different species of birds in our 15 mile radius.

The Audubon Society always needs volunteers to help with the bird counts.  It’s a fun family activity that you can take part in during the holidays.   Another fun family activity to do over the Christmas break is to go to Rockport to see the whooping cranes.  There are a lot of tour boats and charter boats that take families and groups out to go see the whooping cranes.

The whooping crane is the tallest North American bird and grows to be five feet tall and have a wingspan of seven and a half feet.  They are white with a red head and black wing tips.  They mate for life and produce one chick per year.    Whooping cranes breed in Canada and migrate down to the Texas Gulf Coast in the winter months.  The whooping crane is an endangered species – there are only about 300 of them left.  In the 1940s, there were only about 20 whooping cranes.  The 300 we have now are all descendants of those original 20.  Their population was being wiped out by hunting and loss of habitat.  Hopefully, with our conservation efforts, we will continue to increase their numbers.   If you would like to help out the whooping crane, you can visit the International Crane Foundation.  They list ways you can help this endangered species survive.