Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – October 2023

Two Whooping Cranes in harvested sweet corn field
Two Whooping Cranes strike a pose in a harvested sweet corn field in Dodge County, Wisconsin. Paul Hettenhaus

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In September, the first captive-reared crane has been released! 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 71 (38 F, 31 M, 2 U). Seventeen of these 71 individuals are wild-hatched and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 October, there are at least 59 in Wisconsin and 1 in Michigan. 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 October 2023
Click here to view our interactive “Where are the Whoopers” map for more details, including bios on each crane.

2021 and 2022 Cohorts

W2-21 (M) is still in Green Lake County, Wisconsin with W3-17.

W14-21 (M) is at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and was seen with W3-20 (F).

84-21 (F) and 85-21 (M) are still together in Green Lake County, WI.

W1-22 (U) is still in Adams County with another Whooping Crane. They did take a short trip to Necedah during September.

2023 Cohort

W9-23 (F) is still in Juneau County with her mother 15-11, but we have not seen her father 29-08 recently. Instead, male W6-18 has been hanging out with this family. Additionally, since late September, parent-reared bird 15-23 has been with the family (see below).

W12-23 (M) is still with parents 24-08 and 13-02 in Juneau County.

W13-23 (U) is still with parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Juneau County.

15-23 (F) was parent-reared at the International Crane Foundation this summer and was released at Necedah in late September. She has been associating with W9-23, 15-11 and W6-18.

Mortality and Long-term Missing 74-18 (M) has not been seen for over a year and is now considered long-term missing. We have removed him from the population totals above.


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