Ten juvenile whooping cranes were released into the wild Thursday at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Gueydan, according to a press release.

The young cranes joined 23 adults which are part of an experimental population being monitored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The cranes, which arrived in southwest Louisiana on Dec. 11, came from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md. 

Whooping cranes are large-bodied white birds similar to white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese.  However, a red head and black facial markings along with a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7- to 8- feet make them very distinctive.  In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail, the release states.

Juveniles are primarily white with some cinnamon feathers remaining on their body, primarily on the head and neck. Their wing tips are black like an adult, but they don’t have a red head, according to the release.

The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts, and by state law.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511, or using the tip411 program which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. 

To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the LADWF Tips iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge. CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so the sender can’t be identified.