Black-and-White Birds: Which Are Cranes?
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Whooping Cranes are not the only large black-and-white birds in
Florida in winter. It’s very important in making any identification of an unexpected bird to get a good look at both the bird’s shape and color pattern. Whooping Cranes have a long, straight beak. They fly with their neck outstretched, their long legs trailing behind.

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The black on a Whooping Crane's wings is limited to the primary feathers.

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Snow Goose wings also have black in the primary feathers, as Whooping Cranes. But Snow Goose legs don’t extend behind. Their neck doesn’t stretch out as far as a crane’s.

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In late summer and fall, young Snow Geese have dark along the trailing edge of their wings, so a family group doesn’t show the same clean black-and-white appearance as a crane family does.

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White Snow Geese very often are seen in flocks mixed with “blue geese” (a dark color form of Snow Geese) and with Canada Geese, so if very dark birds are in the same group as black-and-white birds, they may be geese.

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The neck of a White Ibis stretches forward and their legs stretch behind like cranes’, but their bill is down-curved.

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The black on White Ibis wings is limited to the very tips of the four outermost primary wing feathers.

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The black in the wings of American White Pelicans extends along the secondary wing feathers. These birds have very short legs.

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Although the neck of an American White Pelican is fairly short relative to their head and massive bill, this can be tricky to see if the birds are very high in the air. But their overall shape is shorter and wider than a crane’s.

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Wood Storks are found in Florida and surrounding areas. The black area in their wings extends along the entire trailing edge of the wing, longer than these other species.

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Wood Storks have a dark head, and the beak is downcurved.

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Now, what do you know for sure about the birds in this photo?


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