Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – April 2020

Whooping Crane 1-17 strikes a pose in Wood County, Wisconsin, in late March 2020.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, most Whooping Cranes have returned to Wisconsin. 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.

Population Estimate

The current estimated population size is 84 (40 F, 41 M, 3 U). 14 of these 84 individuals are wild-hatched and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 3 April, at least 43 are in Wisconsin, 2 are in Michigan, 20 were last detected in Indiana, 5 in Illinois, 2 in Kentucky, 2 in Alabama and 1 in Florida. There was also one Whooping Crane from the Louisiana Non-migratory Population in Morgan County, Alabama during March, but this bird moved to Missouri by the end of the month. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. Some birds are still moving north, and some that have returned are yet to be detected. As a result, some of these locations may not reflect where the cranes are in early April, but instead are their last known locations during March. See the map below.

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

2019 Cohort

W1-19 (F) turned up with parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Knox Co, IN, during March, when she separated from her parents. She is currently in Ford Co, IL.

W14-19 (F) spent most of March with parents 12-03 and 12-05 in Knox Co, IN. They likely have left their wintering grounds, but have not yet been detected further north.

W19-19 (U) spent most of March with parents 9-05 and 13-03 in Greene Co, IN. Female 13-03 has a remote transmitter that shows she has returned to Wisconsin, so it is likely W19-19 is also back in Wisconsin, although that has not yet been confirmed.

79-19 (F) left Lawrence Co, TN, and returned to Wisconsin by the end of March. She is currently in Monroe County.

80-19 (F) left Greene Co, IN, and migrated to Juneau Co, Wisconsin. She was first detected on the territory of one of the adult cranes with whom she spent the winter, so, presumably, she migrated north with adults 19_10 and 7_11.

2018 Cohort

W3_18 (F) was last detected in Greene Co, IN, however, she has likely migrated back and has yet to be detected in Wisconsin.

W1_18 (F), W5_18 (M), W10_18 (U), and W6_18 (M) were last seen in Sullivan Co, IN, with 69_16 (F), W10_15 (U), and 2_17 (F). They also have likely migrated north and have yet to be detected in Wisconsin.

73_18 (F) and 74_18 (M) returned to Dodge Co, WI, with their parent 16_11 (M). 74_18 has been moving around Wisconsin a lot during March and was last detected in Manitowoc Co. We have not yet confirmed if 73_18 is moving around with 74_18.

75_18 (M) is still in McLean Co, IL.

77_18 (M) is still in Highlands Co, FL.

Mortality or Long-term missing

Female 17_11 has not been seen for a year and is now considered long-term missing and is removed from the estimated population total. She was last seen on 14 April 2019 in Allamakee County, Iowa, with a severe leg injury.

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