Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – February 2023

Whooping and Sandhill Cranes, Meigs County, Tennessee
Wintering Whooping Crane 5-10 and Sandhill Cranes forage at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tennessee.

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. 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 74 (37 F, 35 M, 2 U). Seventeen of these 74 individuals are wild-hatched, and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 February, there are eight in Illinois, 22 in Indiana, six in Kentucky, four in Tennessee, 15 in Alabama, two in Georgia and two 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 1 Feb 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 last 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) was with parents 1-17 and W1-19 in Greene County, IN. In January, W4-22’s parents were seen without a chick, and W4-22 was later confirmed dead.

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 finally confirmed on the wintering grounds in Hopkins Co, KY, with dad 2-04 and his new mate W14-19.

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 still with his parents in Randolph Co, IL.

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

Mortality and Long-term Missing W4-22 (U) was found dead in January in Greene County, Indiana. The cause of death is unknown.


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