Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – August 2019

Whooping Cranes 38-17 and 63-15 unison call, a beautiful duet performed by a pair, amid curious Sandhill Cranes in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, we have had our first wild-hatched chick of the year reach fledging! 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 86 (39 F, 45 M, 2 U). This does not yet include wild-hatched chicks from 2019. To the best of our knowledge, as of 6 August, at least 72 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, 4 are in Michigan, 1 is in Iowa and 1 is in Illinois. 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 6 August, we have had at least 25 first nests, likely 10, second nests, and one, third nest. We have had 19 wild-hatched chicks, 11 from 7 first nests, 8 from 7 re-nests. Currently, there are 3-5 wild-hatched chicks alive, shown below in bold.

2019 Wild-hatched chicks:

W1-19 hatched 3 May to parents 12-11/5-11 in Juneau Co and is still alive, has been banded, and has fledged!

W9-19 hatched 25 May to parents W18-15/19-10 in Juneau Co. Mother W18-15 has not been seen recently, and W9-19 was seen for a while with dad 19-10. However, W9-19 hasn’t been seen since 14 July, and 19-10 has been seen alone, so we believe W9-19 is no longer alive.

W12-19 hatched on 2 June to parents 2-04 and 25-09 in Juneau Co and is no longer alive.

W14-19 hatched on 6 June to parents 12-03 and 12-05 in Juneau Co and is still alive. W14-19 received their permanent bands and a transmitter during July.

W16-19 and W17-19 hatched on 7 and 10 June to parents 9-03 and 3-04 in Juneau Co. Mother 9-03 died during July (see below). W16-19 and father 3-04 were recently seen with adult female 23-10, but now the two adults have been seen without the chick and we believe W16-19 is no longer alive.

W19-19 hatched on 22 June to parents 9-05 and 13-03 in their third nest attempt this season, in Juneau Co, and is still alive.

2018 Cohort

W1_18 (F) is still in Marathon Co.

W3_18 (F) is still with 16_04 (M) at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau Co, WI.

W5_18 (M), W6_18 (M), and W10_18 (U) were at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge during July. They were sometimes seen with other Whooping Cranes, but are moving around the refuge a bit.

73_18 (F) and 74_18 (M) are still together in Dodge Co, WI.

75_18 (M) and 78_18 (F) are together in Dodge Co, WI.

77_18 (M) is still in Washtenaw Co, Michigan.

Mortality or Long-term missing

9_03 (F) was found dead on 3 July at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau Co, WI. Cause of death appears to be predation.

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