Whooping Crane: April 7, 2006; 8:55 a.m. cdst. in Todd County, about a mile south of Swanville, Minnesota and west of Highway 28. Picture taken from car. Crane was about 1/4 mile away. Hopefully, I will be able to get more and perhaps better photos in the future. Jim Molkenthin

This information comes from Robert Russell, USFWS    
Every Spring I watch for the return of the sandhill cranes to the Molly Creek area between Burtrum and Swanville. Yes, the sandhill cranes are back but in their midst this year was one of the rarest birds on earth, the Whooping Crane. During the 1940s, the population of whooping cranes dropped down to as few as 14 birds. With a lot of protection and a lot of work, the population increased until today there are about 320 birds. Now, one of the elegant birds is paying a visit to our area.

The whooping crane is just one of a pair of whooping cranes who were returning from Florida to their summer breeding grounds in Wisconsin. The paid had been blown off course during a big storm. The female ended ou in Detroit Lakes before making it back to the home breeding grounds.

As it turns out, the Swanville  whooping crane is a male. After visiting for a few days, he also made his way back to his home breeding grounds. However, he injured one of his legs during the flight and while slowly healing, he did lose his mate.