Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – November 2023

Whooping Crane, St. Croix County, Wisconsin
Whooping Crane male 1-11 in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Photo by Terry Mortier

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. The rest of the captive-reared birds were released in October, and migration began! 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 78 (42 F, 34 M, 2 U). Seventeen of these 78 individuals are wild-hatched, and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 November, there are approximately 41-48 in Wisconsin, one in Michigan, eight to nine in Illinois, and 10 to 16 in Indiana. 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. As we are at the height of migration, bird locations change quickly, and more may have moved further south. 

Whooping Crane Locations 1 November 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) moved to Adams County, Wisconsin, with W3-17.

W14-21 (M) was last seen at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge with W3-20 (F) in October.

84-21 (F) was last seen in Juneau County.

85-21 (M) went to Juneau County and was last seen in Adams County with other Whooping Cranes.

W1-22 (U) is still in Adams County with other Whooping Cranes.

2023 Cohort

W9-23 (F) is still in Juneau County with 15-11, W6- 18, and 15-23.

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. They left Juneau County and were seen in Lawrence County, IL, but have likely continued to their unknown wintering location.

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.

21-23 (M) and 22-23 (F) were parent-reared at the Calgary Zoo this summer and were released at Necedah in early October. They have been associating with 2-04 and W14-19. By the end of the month, 21-23 was seen with another pair, 6-17 and 16-04 at Necedah. We hope they will migrate south soon!

16-23 (F), 17-23 (F), 18-23 (F), 19-23 (M), 20-23 (F), and 23-23 (M) were costume-reared at International Crane Foundation this summer and were released at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County during October. At least one of these birds, but likely all six, have migrated and are now in Indiana.

Mortality and Long-term Missing

80-19 (F) has not been seen for over a year and is now considered long-term missing. We have removed her 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.