Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – Sept 2019

Whooping Crane chick W1-19 and her mother 12-11. The young crane is getting tall and is quickly developing her adult plumage!

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, Whooping Cranes have mostly stayed on their summer territories and the chicks are getting bigger! 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 85 (40 F, 43 M, 2 U). This includes two of the three wild-hatched chicks from 2019. The third will be added to population totals once it has fledged. To the best of our knowledge, as of Sept. 1, 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. View our Where are the Whoopers interactive map to view the last known location of cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population.

2019 Wild-hatched Cohort

As of Sept. 1, there are 3 wild-hatched chicks alive, shown below in bold.

W1_19 is still with parents 12-11/5-11 in Juneau Co, WI and is doing well. W1-19 fledged earlier this summer and has been exploring some new areas.

W14_19 is still with parents 12-03 and 12-05 in Juneau Co, WI and is doing well. W14-19 fledged during August and is checking out more of the wetlands at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

W19_19 is still with parents 9-05 and 13-03 in Juneau Co, WI and will fledge mid-September.

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. W5-18 and W10-18 may be together, or at least are in the same area of the refuge.

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.

Whooping Cranes 75 and 78-18 are continuing to do well in Dodge County, Wisconsin. The cranes hatched at the Calgary Zoo in 2018 and were transferred to eastern Wisconsin this year. Learn more about these birds.

Mortality or Long-term missing

16_07 (F) was found dead at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on Aug. 25, but she likely died a week or so earlier. Her mate 7-07 has now been seen with W3-10, who lost her mate earlier this summer. Cause of death is unknown.

1_04 (M) has not been seen since January in Illinois. His mate 16_07 nested with another male this year before her death (see above). We suspect 1_04 is dead and removed him from the population totals above.

24_09 (M) has not been seen since late May. His mate 42_09 was seen alone during June and July and now has been seen with another male. We suspect 24_09 is dead but have not found his carcass. He has been removed from the population totals above.

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