Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – May 2021

The first Whooping Crane chick of the year, W1-21, is growing fast! The chick is pictured with one of its parents at White River Marsh in Marquette County, Wisconsin.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, nesting season has been in full swing! 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 76 (38 F, 36 M, 2 U). Sixteen of these 76 individuals are wild-hatched and the rest are captive-reared. Since the last update, one crane who had originally tested as male, re-tested as female and is paired with a male. Additionally, a crane of unknown sex has paired and nested with a female and is assumed to be male. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 May, there are at least 71 Whooping Cranes in Wisconsin, two in Illinois, two in Michigan, and one in Minnesota. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. Their last known locations (in the past month) are on the below map.


Click here to view our interactive “Where are the Whoopers” map for more details, including bios on each of the cranes.


As of 1 May, we have had at least 21 first nests and one renest so far this spring.

Failed nests since last report: one in Sauk Co (abandoned and one egg was infertile and the other was fertile and will be raised in captivity), and five in Juneau Co (three nests likely abandoned due to black flies, one egg was salvaged, and two failed from unknown causes).

Eggs were removed from one nest in Marquette Co to be raised in captivity.

Active nests: two in Marquette Co, one in Green Lake Co, one in Adams Co, one in Dodge Co, one in St. Croix Co, and eight in Juneau Co, Wisconsin.

Chicks: W1-21, the first chick of the season, hatched to parents W3-17 and 30-16 in Green Lake Co!

2020 Cohort

W3-20 (F) was seen in Adams Co, WI in early April.

W13-20 (M) returned to Dodge Co, WI with parents 38-17 and 63-15 and then moved up to Outagamie Co, WI.

W14-20 (M) was seen during April in Burnett Co, WI, with W1-18 (F).

W18-20 (F) left Clay Co, IL, and is now in Lee Co, IL with 80-19 (F).

2019 Cohort

W1-19 (F) is in Wood Co with another Whooping Crane, which we believe is 1-17 (M).

W14-19 (F) left Portage Co, WI, and was seen by herself in Isanti Co, MN during April.

W19-19 (U) is in Juneau Co, WI, but is moving around a bit.

79-19 (F) is in Dodge County, Wisconsin with 74-18 (M).

80-19 (F) left Clay Co, IL and is now in Lee Co, IL with W18-20 (F).

Removal from the population

16-12 (M) was captured and removed from the population due to his presence at the Volk Field airport and his lack of response to hazing efforts.

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