Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – June 2020

Whooping Crane pair 12-03 and 12-05 and their chick W14-20 were sighted during a recent aerial survey over Juneau County, Wisconsin.

Below is the most recent update for the Whooping Crane Eastern Migratory Population. In the last month, Whooping Cranes have been nesting and hatching chicks! 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 83 (40 F, 40 M, 3 U). Fourteen of these 83 individuals are wild hatched and the rest are captive reared. This does not include this year’s cohort of wild-hatched chicks. To the best of our knowledge, as of June 1, at least 75 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, four are in Michigan and one in Illinois. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. Click here to view real-time locations of Whooping Cranes in this population.

Reproduction

As of June 1, we have had at least 21 pairs nesting in Wisconsin so far this spring. Completed, successful nests (hatched) are listed below in the 2020 wild-hatched cohort section.

Active re-nests: One in Green Lake County, two in Juneau County.

Failed nests (since the last update): Two to three in Green Lake County; one possible re-nest in Marquette Co; two pairs in Juneau County incubated full term, but we did not detect a hatch or were unable to tell what happened at the nest.

2020 Wild-hatched Cohort

Chicks listed below in bold are currently alive, as far as we know. So far at least 14 chicks have hatched and up to 10 are still alive.

W1-20 (U) and W2-20 (U) hatched to parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Juneau County in April. Both chicks are alive as of June 1.

W3-20 (U) hatched to parents 11-15 and 42-09 in Adams County at the end of April and is still alive as of the end of May.

W4-20 (U) hatched around May 3 in Sauk County to a trio of parents, 6-17, 4-17 and 24-17. 4-17 and 24-17 are raising the chick together, 6-17 is still around, but we do not know which adults are W4-20’s biological parents.

W5-20 (U) hatched on May 8 to parents 10-15 and 4-13 in Green Lake County and is still alive as far as we know.

W6-20 (U) hatched on May 8 to parents 7-11 and 19-10 in Juneau County. W6-20 was not seen with parents by the end of May.

W7-20 (U) and W8-20 (U) hatched on May 8-10 to parents 9-05 and 13-03 in Juneau County. Neither chick is alive as of the end of May.

W9-20 (U) and W10-20 (U) hatched around May 13 to parents 1-11 and 59-13 in St. Croix County. One or both of these chicks are still alive as far as we know.

W11-20 (U) hatched around May 15 to parents 18-03 and 36-09 in Juneau County and is still alive as of the end of May.

W12-20 (U) hatched on May 15 to female-female pair 2-15 and 28-05 in Marathon County. Fertile eggs from 2-04 and 25-09 were swapped into the female-female nest when black flies were hatching at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and likely would have caused a nest abandonment for 2-04 and 25-09. We don’t believe W12-20 is still alive as of the end of May, although we will confirm in the beginning of June.

W13-20 (U) hatched mid-May to parents 38-17 and 63-15 at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County and is still alive as of the end of May.

W14-20 (U) hatched mid-May to parents 12-03 and 12-05 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County and is still alive as of the end of May.

2019 Cohort

W1-19 (F) was last reported in Ford Co, IL during March.

W14-19 (F) is in Portage Co, WI, with 1_17 (M).

W19-19 (U) was seen in Juneau Co, WI, during May with some of the 2018 cohort (see below).

79-19 (F) is still in Dodge Co, WI, and is associating with 16_11 (M).

80-19 (F) left Elkhart Co, IN, and is now in Livingston Co, IL.

2018 Cohort

W3_18 (F) and W5_18 (M) were seen together with W19_19 (U) and another unidentified crane in Juneau Co, WI, during May. W5_18 appeared to be molting.

W1_18 (F) and W10_18 (U) have both been seen in Juneau Co, WI, in a similar area but not together.

W6_18 (M) was last detected in Juneau Co, WI in April.

73_18 (F) turned up in Juneau Co, WI, and has been associating with 3_04 (M) during May.

74_18 (M) spent most of May in Dodge Co, but is now in Adams Co, WI.

75_18 (M) left Brown Co and is now in Dodge Co, WI.

77_18 (M) is now in Eaton Co, MI.

Mortality or Long-term missing

None known.

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