Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – May 2019

Young female Whooping Crane W3-18 is now with male 11-15 and they have been moving between Adams and Juneau Counties in Wisconsin. The duo has been seen unison calling, even though she doesn’t have her full adult voice quite yet!

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, adult Whooping Cranes have been nesting and young cranes have been doing a bit of wandering. 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 1 May, at least 77 Whooping Cranes are back in Wisconsin, 1 was last reported in Iowa, 4 are in Michigan, and 1 is in Ontario Canada. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. See map below.

Click here to view our interactive “Where are the Whoopers” map for more details.


As of 1 May, we have had at least 25 first nests. At least 3 nests have failed due to unknown causes, however, we suspect a snowstorm was the cause for one nest’s failure. Ten nests from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge had eggs pulled during black fly emergence to encourage cranes to re-nest after black flies were off the landscape. Eggs from these nests were brought into captivity to be reared and released back into the wild. Currently, we have 12 active nests, some of which may hatch still this week.

Active nests:

Juneau Co: 12-11/5-11, 69-16/12-09, 15-11/29-08, W3-10/8-04, W18-15/19-10

Adams Co: 24-09/42-09

Marquette Co: 10-11/27-14

Green Lake Co: 7-17/4-14, 3-14/4-12, 10-15/4-13, W3-17/30-16

Marathon Co: 5-10/28-08

Failed nests or Forced Re-nests:

Juneau Co: W1-06/1-10, 6-15/37-07, 2-04/25-09, 13-02/24-08, 36-09/18-03, 13-03/9-05, 23-10/4-08, 9-03/3-04, 16-07/7-07, 12-03/12-05

St. Croix Co: 1-11/59-13

Adams Co: 3-11/7-11

Green Lake Co: 67-15/3-17

2018 Wild-hatched birds

W1_18 (F) has been confirmed back in Wisconsin during April, in Marathon Co.

W3_18 (F) is now with 11_15 (M) and has been moving between Adams and Juneau Counties. The two have been seen unison calling, even though she doesn’t have her full adult voice quite yet.

W5_18 (M) was still in Juneau Co during April.

W6_18 (M) was seen in Juneau Co during April.

W10_18 (U) is now in Juneau Co, WI, not far from their parents’ territory.

2018 Parent-reared Cohort

73_18 (F) and 74_18 (M) left Horicon National Wildlife Refuge to start moving around, but are still together in Dodge Co.

77_18 (M) left Sarasota Co, FL and is now in Livingston Co, Michigan.

2017 Wild-hatched birds

W3_17 (F) left 11_15 (M) and is now with 30_16 (M) in Green Lake Co, WI, and the pair is currently nesting.

W7_17 (F) has not yet been confirmed back in Wisconsin.

2017 Parent-reared Cohort

19_17 (M) is still with 2_15 (F) and 28_05 (F) in Marathon Co.

28_17 (M) has not been seen since March and is likely moving around Wisconsin.

24_17 (M) is now in Sauk Co.

72_17 (M) has been moving around a ton this spring and is back in Genesee Co, Michigan.

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

39_17 (F) is still in Ontario, Canada.

2017 Costume-Reared Cohort

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

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) are still in Adams Co.

1_17 (M) and 2_17 (F) split up and 1_17 is in Jackson Co, WI, while 2_17 is in Juneau Co with an unbanded crane we presume is W10_15 (U).

3_17 (M) is still with 67_15 (F) in Green Lake Co and the pair had their first nest this spring.

8_17 (F) was last seen in early February in Crisp Co, Georgia.


None known during April.

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