Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – January 2023

Two Whooping Cranes and a Great Blue Heron, Gibson County, Indiana
Whooping Cranes Ho-Chunk (84-21) and 25-10 rest near a Great Blue Heron in Gibson County, Indiana.

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, most Whooping Cranes stayed on the wintering grounds or pushed further south with colder temperatures. 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. The International Crane Foundation produced this report. 

Population Estimate 

The current estimated population size is 75 (37 F, 35 M, 3 U). Eighteen of these 75 individuals are wild-hatched and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 3 January, there are 11-12 in Illinois, 25 in Indiana, 5-8 in Kentucky, 2 in Tennessee, 15 in Alabama, 2 in Georgia, and 2 in Florida. 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.  

Whooping Crane Locations January 3, 2023
Click here to view our interactive “Where are the Whoopers” map for more details, including bios on each crane.

2022 Cohort

W1-22 (U) was seen with parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Lawrence County, IL during December. This family likely moved further south but their wintering location is unknown.

W4-22 (U) is with parents 1-17 and W1-19 in Greene County, IN and has been associating with other Whooping Cranes as well.

88-22 (F) was associating closely with 1-17 (M), W1-19 (F), and W4-22 (U). However, her remains were found during December in Greene County, IN. Based on what was found, we suspect she died of bobcat predation, however there was not enough left for necropsy.

2021 Cohort 

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

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

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

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

85-21 (M) is still at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan County, AL 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) is now in Randolph Co, IL, with his parents.

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

Mortality and Long-term Missing

88-22 (F) was found dead in December in Greene County, IN. The cause of death is unknown but is suspected to be due to bobcat predation.

Thompson

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

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