Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – December 2020

A flock of 10 Whooping Cranes (one not pictured) fly to their evening roost in Greene County, Indiana.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, most birds have migrated! 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 80 (39 F, 38 M, 3 U). Seventeen of these 80 individuals are wild-hatched and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 December, there are 7 Whooping Cranes that are still in Wisconsin, 18 in Illinois, 35 in Indiana, 6 in Kentucky, 2 in Tennessee, 4 in Alabama and 1 in Florida. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. Also, migration is still underway and the locations of birds change daily! See map below.

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


2020 Wild-hatched Cohort

W3-20 (F) and parents 11-15 and 42-09 passed through Illinois on their way south and were seen with 80-19 (F). They went to Morgan Co, AL, and then decided to come back north to Hopkins Co, KY. They have still been seen with 80-19 (F) as well as 2-04 (M) and 25-09 (F).

W13-20 (M) and parents 38-17 and 63-15 left Horicon NWR in Wisconsin, and have made their way to Randolph Co, IL.

W14-20 (M) and parents 12-03 and 12-05 are still currently in Knox Co, IN.

W18-20 (F) and parents 13-02 and 24-08 left Necedah NWR and are now in Wabash Co, IL.

2019 Cohort

W1-19 (F) is at Goose Pond FWA in Greene Co, IN, and has been gathering in a group of 10-15 whooping cranes, including other young birds as well as breeding pairs.

W14-19 (F) left Portage Co, WI, with 1-17 (M) and went to Wheeler NWR, in Morgan Co, AL, only to turn around and go to Greene Co, IN shortly after.

W19-19 (U) left Juneau Co, WI, and is now in Greene Co, IN and still with W1-19 (F) and W10-18 (U) in the large group of Whooping Cranes.

79-19 (F) and 74-18 (M) left 16-11 (M) in Wisconsin and are now in Greene Co, IN, associating in the large group.

80-19 (F) was seen with family group W3-20, 11-15 and 42-09 in LaSalle Co, IL. She followed them to Hopkins Co, KY, where she is now also with 2-04 (M) and 25-09 (F).

2018 Cohort

W3-18 (F) is still in Greene Co, IN, with W1-18 (F) and 19-10 (M), and has been associating in the large group at Goose Pond FWA.

W5-18 (M) and W1-06 (F) left Juneau Co, WI, and have been seen in the large group of cranes at Goose Pond FWA in Greene Co, IN.

W1-18 (F) is still in Greene Co, IN, with W3-18 (F) and 19-10 (M) in the large group of cranes at Goose Pond FWA.

W10-18 (U) left Necedah NWR and have been seen with W1-19 (F) and W19-19 (U) in the large group of cranes at Goose Pond FWA in Greene Co, IN.

W6-18 (M) left Necedah NWR and was last seen at Goose Pond FWA in Greene Co, IN, with 16-04 (M), 2-17 (F), who he had been last seen associating with, and 69-16 (F) and W10-15 (U).

73-18 (F) and 3-04 (M) left Necedah NWR and made their way to Wayne Co, IL.

74-18 (M) left with 79-19 (F) and arrived in Greene Co, IN and have been seen in the large group of cranes at Goose Pond FWA.

77-18 (M) left Michigan and is now in Polk Co, FL.

Mortality, 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.