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Port Aransas Hopes Whooping Cranes Returning For Winter Bring More Business With Them

Tourism officials in Port Aransas hope the return of one the world’s most endangered birds will draw visitors and boost business in the coastal community.

“More than 500 whooping cranes come back in a naturally migrating flock that travel from Canada to the Port Aransas region," said Brett Stawar, president and CEO of the Port Aransas & Mustang Island Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. "They typically arrive in November and depart in April.”

Birders, photographers and nature lovers usually turn out to see the cranes in their winter habitat at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

The Texas Coastal Bend is the only place to see the world’s last naturally-occurring population of whooping cranes, tourism officials explained.

“During Covid, restricted nature hikes and ranch tours will be available with limited numbers,” Stawar said. “Bird walks at Port Aransas each week in February are limited.”

Boat tours will be limited to capacity based on government COVID-19 protocols. Boat tours are the best way to see the cranes, he said.

Port Aransas will not host its 25th annual Whooping Crane Festival in February because of the pandemic. It will instead offer self-guided boat tours that will soon be available online.

Mustang Island is home to hundreds of permanent and migrating birds, with six sites along the Great Texas Birding Trail.