Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – September 2020

Whooping Crane pair 4-12 and 3-14 in Green Lake County, Wisconsin this summer.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, another Whooping Crane chick has reached fledging age! 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 81 (38 F, 38 M, 5 U). Sixteen of these 81 individuals are wild-hatched and the rest are captive-reared. This total now includes three of this year’s cohort of wild-hatched chicks who have fledged but does not yet include W18-20 who has not yet fledged. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 September, at least 73 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, at least 1 is in Michigan (although possibly up to 4), and 1 in Illinois. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. See the map below.

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

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.

W3-20 (F) hatched to parents 11-15 and 42-09 in Adams County at the end of April, was banded in June, fledged in July and is still alive.

W13-20 (U) hatched mid-May to parents 38-17 and 63-15 at Horicon NWR in Dodge County, fledged during August and is still alive as of 1 September.

W14-20 (U) hatched mid-May to parents 12-03 and 12-05 at Necedah NWR in Juneau County, was banded during July, was seen flying during August and is still alive as of 1 September.

W18-20 (U) hatched early July to parents 13-02 and 24-08 at Necedah NWR in Juneau County. W18-20 is alive as of 1 September and is due to fledge later this month.

2019 Cohort

W1-19 (F) is now at Necedah NWR 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) has returned to Grundy Co, IL.

2018 Cohort

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, WI in May.

W10_18 (U) is still at Necedah NWR in Juneau Co, WI, and has occasionally been seen with W1_19 (F).

W6_18 (M) is still associating with W1_06 (F) at Necedah NWR in Juneau Co, WI.

73_18 (F) is still associating with 3_04 (M) at Necedah NWR, 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

None known during August.

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