Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – December 2022

Whooping Crane trio and Sandhill Crane in Dodge County, Wisconsin.
A Whooping Crane trio and a neighboring Sandhill Crane rest during migration in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, most Whooping Cranes have made it to their wintering grounds. 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 was produced by the International Crane Foundation.   

Population Estimate

The current estimated population size is 76 (38 F, 35 M, 3 U). Eighteen of these 76 individuals are wild-hatched and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 December, there are one to three Whooping Cranes in Wisconsin, up to two in Michigan, six to eight in Illinois, 31 in Indiana, 15 in Alabama, four in Kentucky and one who was last reported in Tennessee. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. Their last known locations (in the past month) are on the map below.  Due to the migration season, it is possible cranes have moved further south since the cranes were last seen or reported.

Whooping Crane locations 5 December 2022
Click here to view our interactive “Where are the Whoopers” map for more details, including bios on each of the cranes.

2022 Cohort

W1-22 (U) was last seen with parents 12-11 and 5-11 during October in Juneau County, WI. This family group has not yet been seen on the wintering grounds, however, this is typical for this pair/family.

W4-22 (U) migrated with parents 1-17 and W1-19 to Greene County, IN and has been associating with newly released crane 88-22 (F).

88-22 (F) was released in Greene County, IN, and has been associating closely with 1-17 (M), W1-19 (F) and W4-22 (U).

90-22 (F) was found dead in Iroquois County, IL (see below).

2021 Cohort 

W2-21 (U) migrated to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan County, AL and is with other Whooping Cranes.

W11-21 (M) is still in Greene County, IN with other Whooping Cranes.

W14-21 (M) was last seen in September in Juneau County, WI.

84-21 (F) is still in Gibson County, IN and is now associating with 25-10 (M).

85-21 (M) migrated to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan County, AL and is with other Whooping Cranes.

2020 Cohort 

W3-20 (F) is still in Greene County, IN, and has been with other Whooping Cranes.

W13-20 (M) was seen in Jasper County, IN, with other Whooping Cranes but the group has split up. It’s not clear if W13-20 is alone or with other cranes.

W18-20 (F) turned up at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama and is with other Whooping Cranes.

Mortality and Long-term Missing

90-22 (F) was found dead in November in Iroquois County, IL. The cause of death is unknown but is suspected to be due to a vehicle or powerline collision.

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