Whooping Cranes: Operation Migration Program Dec. 20 at the Wildlife Park
The magnificent Whooping crane (grus Americana) is North America’s tallest bird measuring 52 inches tall with a wingspan of 87 inches, and a weight of 12.8 pounds. They can live 20 to 25 years in the wild. The Whooping crane is considerably larger than the more common Sandhill crane. Its distinctive white plumage is accented with black primaries, a bright red crown, and a heavy, dull yellow-colored bill. Juveniles are white with a rusty red head and neck and have rusty red feathers over the rest of their bodies.
Whooping cranes are also one of the most endangered birds in North America. In 1941 only 15 individual cranes remained on the Texas coast, but through conservation and management programs this flock has slowly increased to over 150 individuals. American ornithologist and environmentalist Robert Porter Allen achieved worldwide attention for his rescue operations of the Whooping crane in the 1940s and 1950s. Public education along with management and protection programs are resulting in increasing populations in Idaho and in Florida.
Wanda Easton from Tampa, Florida will present an Operation Migration program on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm in the Florida Room at the park’s Visitor Center located on US 19 in Homosassa Springs. She will discuss Operation Migration and their partnership with several government and non-profit organizations to form the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP). Under the WCEP umbrella these organizations work together to safeguard the rarest crane in the world. Easton has been a supporter of Operation Migration for many years and has worked with Whooping Cranes as a docent at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
Christmas Celebration of Lights Dec. 19-24
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, along with the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, will host its annual Christmas Celebration of Lights, a nine-evening event, from Tuesday, Dec. 19 through Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24, and again on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017. The park will open at 5:30 p.m. on these evenings and remain open until 9 p.m. The Celebration of Lights will be closed on the evening of Monday, December 25, 2017.
The Celebration of Lights will feature a spectacular, synchronized light and sound display in the Garden of the Springs by Sebastian Hawes. Nills Anderson and Vicky Iozzia will host and present special appearances by our nightly entertainment. Holiday lights, decorations, music and refreshments will create the perfect setting for this holiday wonderland. The Wildside Café will be offering a selection of refreshments. The Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, Inc. will also be selling popcorn in the Garden of the Springs.
A donation of $5 for adults and $2 for children ages three through 12 is suggested. Children age two and under are admitted free. For our visitors’ convenience, transportation will be provided by tram from the Visitor Center parking lot on U.S. 19 to the West entrance on Fishbowl Drive. For more information, call the park office at (352) 628-5343, Mondays through Fridays.