Bird enthusiasts are being urged to keep their distance from whooping cranes that pass through Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in central Kansas at this time each year.
Refuge worker Barry Jones sent an email this week to people on a Kansas birding list cautioning them to stay at least a half-mile away from the endangered shorebird.
Whooping cranes have been spotted at the refuge in recent weeks. As many as 16 were reported at the wetlands Sunday.
All hunting is suspended at the refuge as long as the rare birds remain there.
The cranes are the tallest species of North American birds at 5 feet. Only about 20 of the birds remained in 1942, but the population is now at least 500.
Associated Press Information from: The Wichita Eagle