Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – October 2020

Whooping Crane W3-20, center, with parents 11-15 and 42-09 take flight in Adams County, Wisconsin.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, the youngest 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 (39 F, 39 M, 3 U). Seventeen of these 81 individuals are wild-hatched, and the rest are captive-reared. This now includes four of this year’s cohort of wild-hatched chicks who have fledged. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 October, at least 72 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, at least 2 are 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

This year at least 18 chicks hatched, and 4 have fledged and are still alive.

W3-20 (F) is still with parents 11-15 and 42-09 in Adams County.

W13-20 (M) is still with parents 38-17 and 63-15 at Horicon NWR in Dodge County and was banded during September.

W14-20 (M) is still with parents 12-03 and 12-05 at Necedah NWR in Juneau County.

W18-20 (F) is still with parents 13-02 and 24-08 at Necedah NWR in Juneau County. W18-20 was banded and fledged during September.

2019 Cohort

W1-19 (F) is still at Necedah NWR in Juneau Co, WI, typically 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 associated with 16_11 (M), 74_18 (M), and 75_18 (M) during September.

80-19 (F) moved to LaSalle 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 in May.

W10_18 (U) is still at Necedah NWR in Juneau Co. WI is usually 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) were still usually with 79_19 (F) and 16_11 (M) in Dodge Co, WI, prior to the death of 75_18 (see below).

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

Mortality, Long-term missing

75_18 (M) was found dead at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge Co, WI, in late September. The cause of death is not yet known.


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