Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – Feb 2019

Whooping Cranes 2-15 and 28-05 spar with neighboring Sandhill Cranes on their wintering area in Indiana.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, Whooping Cranes either stayed at their wintering locations, or some have started to move north. A huge thank-you to the staff of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Departments of Natural Resources of flyway states, the International Crane Foundation, and all 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. This report is produced by the International Crane Foundation for the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

Population Estimate

The current estimated population size is 100 (45 F, 52 M, 3 U). To the best of our knowledge, as of 11 February, approximately 11 Whooping Cranes are in Illinois, 34 are in Indiana, 9 are in Kentucky, 5 are in Tennessee, 16 are in Alabama, 3 are in Georgia, 5 are in Florida, and 1 is in Louisiana. There is also one female Whooping Crane from the Louisiana Non-Migratory Population (L4-17) with Eastern Migratory Population cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan Co, AL. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. See map below.

2018 Wild-hatched birds

W1_18 (F) was last seen in November with parents 12_11 and 5_11 in Knox Co, IN. The family group has not been seen during December or January.

W3_18 (F) has not been seen during December or January, although is likely in Kentucky with parents 24_09 and 42_09.

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

W6_18 (M) is with his parents 1-04 and 16-07 in Lawrence Co, IL.

W10_18 (U) is with its parents 4-08 and 23-10 in Greene Co, IN.

2018 Parent-reared Cohort

73_18 (F) and 74_18 (M) are with their parent 16_11 (M) in Jasper Co, IN.

77_18 (M) is in Sarasota Co, FL.

2017 Wild-hatched birds

W3_17 (F) and W7_17 (F) are both at Wheeler NWR in Morgan Co, AL, along with about a dozen other Whooping Cranes.

2017 Parent-reared Cohort

19_17 (M) is in Jackson Co, AL, and was with 25_17 (M) who died since the last report (see below).

28_17 (M) was with 39-17 (F) in Jasper Co, IN. Then 39-17 moved south to Jackson Co, IN. It is unknown yet whether 28_17 went with her.

24_17 (M) is still in Alachua Co, FL.

72_17 (M) is still in Jefferson Co, TN.

38_17 (F) is with 63-15 (M) in Randolph Co, IL.

2017 Costume-Reared Cohort

7_17 (F) is with 4_14 (M) in Webster Co, KY.

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) are in Fulton Co, KY.

1_17 (M), 2_17 (F), and 3_17 (M) are in Morgan Co, AL at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

8_17 (F) is now in Crisp Co, GA.

Winter Distribution

To the best of our knowledge, these cranes are in the following states or were reported there during January or early February. It is possible the cranes have moved to new locations by the end of the month. The remaining cranes’ locations are unknown.

Illinois: 10_11, 27_14, 16_07, 1_04, W6_18, 16_04, 6_15, 38_17, 63_15, 9_03, 3_04

Indiana: 16_11, 73_18, 74_18, 16_12, 12_03, 12_05, 29_08, 15_11, 39_17, 28_17, 31_16, 68_15, 28_05, 2_15, W5_18, W3_10, 8_04, W10_18, 23_10, 4_08, W1_06, 1_10, 9_05, 13_03, 7_11, 3_11, 18_03, 36_09, 19_10, W10_15, 69_16, 12_09, 19_09, 25_10

Kentucky: 4_17, 6_17, 4_14, 7_17, We assume the following birds are also in Kentucky but haven’t gotten a recent report of them: 24_09, 42_09, W3_18, 2_04, 25_09

Tennessee: 72_17, 5_10, 28_08, 66_15, 14_12

Alabama: 17_11, 37_07, 19_17, 13_02, 24_08, 14_15, 1_11, 59_13, 1_17, 2_17, 10_15, 4_13, 11_15, W3_17, 3_17, W7_17, and one bird from the Louisiana Non-Migratory Population (L4-17).

Georgia: 4_12, 3_14, 8_17

Florida: 24_17, 77_18, 30_16, 5_12, 67_15

Louisiana: 20_15


25-17 was euthanized in January after sustaining injuries that are believed to have come from a powerline collision.

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