Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – Nov 2018

Parent reared Whooping Crane chick 77-18 and Sandhill Cranes in Green Lake County, Wisconsin.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, migration has begun! A huge thank-you to the staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation and all of the volunteers who help us keep track of the cranes throughout the year. We appreciate your contribution to the recovery of the Whooping Crane Eastern Migratory Population.

Population Estimate

The current estimated population size is 102 (46 F, 53 M, 3 U). As of 1 November, around 54 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, 3 in Michigan, 9 in Illinois, 13 in Indiana, 2 in Kentucky and 1 in Alabama. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month or two. See map below.

Wild-hatched birds

As of 1 November, five wild-hatched chicks are still alive, all of which have fledged, are with their parents and are banded.

W1_18 (F) is still in Juneau Co with her parents and is now banded.

W3_18 (F) is still with her parents in Adams Co.

W5_18 (M) has migrated and is now with parents W3_10 and 8_04 in Greene Co, IN.

W6_18 (M) is still with his parents 1-04 and 16-07, but they have left Juneau Co, WI, and have not yet been seen further south.

W10_18 (U) is still with its parents 4-08 and 23-10, but they have not been seen on territory in Juneau Co, nor further south yet, but are presumably on migration or staging somewhere in Wisconsin.

2018 Releases

16_11 (M), 73_18 (F), and 74_18 (M) are all still at Horicon NWR in Dodge Co, WI, and are doing well.

76_18 (F) was released at White River Marsh in Green Lake Co, WI, on 2 October. She moved around the area on her own for a week or so and was seen with other Whooping Cranes. Her carcass was found on 12 October in the same field 30-16 (M) and 3-17 (M) were seen. The cause of death is likely predation.

77_18 (M) was also released at White River Marsh, on 11 October. He associated with target pair 5-12 and 67-15 for a while but is now with a group of Sandhill Cranes. He is still in Green Lake Co and seems to be doing well.

2017 Wild-hatched chicks

W3_17 (F) is still in Adams Co, WI, and is now with 11_15 (M). She has also been seen with her parents and their new chick, 24_09, 42_09, and W3_18.

W7_17 (F) has left Minnesota and as of 24 October was the first Whooping Crane to arrive at Wheeler NWR in Morgan Co, AL.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort

19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) left Polk Co, WI and are currently in Kane Co, IL.

28_17 (M) is still in Sauk Co, WI.

24_17 (M) is in Dane Co, WI.

72_17 (M) has been moving around a little bit and is now in Jackson Co, MI.

38_17 (F) is still in Dodge Co, WI with 63-15 (M).

39_17 (F) is in Winnebago Co, WI.

Costume-Reared 2017 Cohort

7_17 (F) is still with 4_14 (M) in Green Lake Co.

3_17 (M) is still with 30_16 (M) and sometimes also with 5_12 and 67_15 in Green Lake Co, WI.

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) are on the move and were in Shawano Co, WI at the end of October.

1_17 (M), 2_17 (F) are currently in Winnebago Co, IL and are sometimes associating with 10_15 (F) and 4_13 (M).

8_17 was last seen in Sangamon Co, IL in May, but her whereabouts are still unknown.


The carcass of 76_18 was collected on 12 October in Green Lake Co, WI (see above).

Hillary ThompsonStory submitted by Hillary Thompson, North America Program Crane Analyst. Click here to learn more about our work in North America.