Whooping Crane(Grus Americana)- Endangered The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America, reaching nearly 1.5 meters in height. Adult plumage is snowy-white. The bill is olive-colored and tipped in dark gray. The long legs are dark gray to black, while the feet are lighter in color. Along with the sandhill crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America. The Whooping Crane flies through Eastern Montana during spring and fall migration. The Whooping Crane has been observed in the marsh habitat present at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. In 1941, there were only 21 wild and two captive whooping cranes remaining. Conservation efforts have led to limited recovery with a total population of 603 whooping cranes in 2015.
Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) – Endangered Piping plovers are round and stocky. They have round heads and large dark eyes, with a short and stubby bill. They are sandy grayish brown birds with white underparts and a narrow, often broken collar. They have yellowish orange legs. In the breeding season, they have an orange bill with a black tip, a black collar, and a black line on the forehead. Piping plovers are found along lakeshores and in alkali wetlands. They nest above the high-water mark in soft sandy areas with sparse vegetation. In Montana, plovers nest on sparsely vegetated sand and gravel bars along the Missouri River, and along the edges of alkali wetlands and sloughs in the NE part of the state.
Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) – Endangered The least tern is the smallest American Tern, weighing ~1oz and measuring around 9in in length. In the spring and summer, it has a white forehead contrasting with a black crown and nape. Its body is slate grey above and white below, with point wings and a forked tail. The bill and feet are yellow. The least tern can be found all over the globe. In the inland Western U.S., the least tern breeds along the Colorado, Red, Rio Grande, Missouri, and Mississippi river systems. This species winters from the Gulf Coast and Central America south to Peru and Brazil. Montana supports one of the smallest populations of interior least terns. Within Montana, least terns breed on sand and gravel bars along the Yellowstone River, below Miles City, and on the Missouri River, below the Fort Peck Reservoir.
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