Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. 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. View near real-time locations of Whooping Cranes in this population.
The current estimated population size is 79 (38 F, 38 M, 3 U). Thirteen of these 79 individuals are wild-hatched, and the rest are captive-reared. The total does not include this year’s cohort of wild-hatched chicks. To the best of our knowledge, as of 4 August, at least 68 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, at least two are in Michigan and one in Illinois. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month.
As of 4 August, the nesting season is complete. We had at least 21 pairs nesting in Wisconsin this spring, three of which re-nested. At least 18 chicks hatched to 15 pairs from 12 first nests and three re-nests.
2020 Wild-hatched Cohort
Chicks listed below in bold are currently alive, as far as we know. So far, at least 18 chicks have hatched, and four are still alive.
W1-20 (U) and W2-20 (U) hatched to parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Juneau County in April. Both disappeared during July, and the remains of W1-20 were recovered. The cause of death is unknown.
W3-20 (U) hatched to parents 11-15 and 42-09 in Adams County at the end of April, was banded in June and is still alive as of 4 August. W3-20 has fledged!
W11-20 (U) hatched around 15 May to parents 18-03 and 36-09 in Juneau County and disappeared during July.
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 4 August.
W14-20 (U) hatched mid-May to parents 12-03 and 12-05 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County, was banded during July and is still alive as of 4 August. W14-20 is old enough to fly. The family has been moving around a bigger area, but we have not yet seen W14-20 in flight. They are considered fledged.
W15-20 (U) hatched mid-to-late May but was first seen in early June with parents 15-11 and 29-08 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County. W15 was not seen during a flight on 25 June and was confirmed gone during July.
W16-20 (U) hatched mid-June to parents 2-04 and 25-09 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County. W16 disappeared during July.
W17-20 (U) hatched in late June to parents W1-06 and 1-10 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County and disappeared during July. Father 1-10 was also found dead during July (see below).
W18-20 (U) hatched early July to parents 13-02 and 24-08 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County. W18-20 hatched from this pair’s second nest and is alive as of 4 August.
W1-19 (F) is now at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau Co, WI, and has occasionally been seen with W10-18 (U).
W14-19 (F) is still in Portage Co, WI, with 1_17 (M).
W19-19 (U) is still in Juneau Co, WI, with W3_18 (F) and W5_18 (M).
79-19 (F) is still in Dodge Co, WI, and is associating with 16_11 (M), 74_18 (M), and 75_18 (M).
80-19 (F) is now in Clark Co, IL.
W3_18 (F) and W5_18 (M) are still with W19_19 (U) in Juneau Co, WI.
W1_18 (F) was last seen in Juneau Co in May.
W10_18 (U) is still at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau Co, WI, and has occasionally been seen with W1_19 (F).
W6_18 (M) is still at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau Co, WI. After the death of 1_10 (M) (see below), W6_18 has been seen associating off and on with W1_06 (F).
73_18 (F) is still associating with 3_04 (M) at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, in Juneau Co, WI.
74_18 (M) and 75_18 (M) are still usually together in Dodge Co, WI, and now have been seen associating with 79_19 (F) and 16_11 (M).
77_18 (M) was reported in Eaton Co, MI, during July.
Mortality, Long-term missing, Removal from population
2-15 (F) incurred a wing injury during July. She was captured and brought into captivity for medical attention. She will not be able to be released back into the Eastern Migratory Population and will now be a part of the captive population.
1-10 (M) was found dead during July. However, the carcass was decomposed and a cause of death was not determined. 1-10 and W1-06’s chick went missing around this same time, and W1-06 was then seen alone.
28-05 (F) was found dead during July. Few remains were found, but our best guess is the mortality was due to predation during her flightless molt.
4-08 (M) has not been seen since 24 July 2019, is now considered long-term-missing, and has been removed from population totals.
Story submitted by Hillary Thompson, North America Program Crane Analyst. Click here to learn more about our work in North America.