Whooping Crane Eastern Population Update – February 2024

Whooping and Sandhill Cranes foraging
A single Whooping Crane forages among Sandhill Cranes on their wintering area in Morgan County, Alabama. Christine Kozlosky

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In January, most birds stayed on their typical wintering grounds, but a few 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 73 (40 F, 31 M, 2 U). Fifteen of these 73 individuals are wild-hatched, and the rest are captive-reared. To the best of our knowledge, as of 1 February, there are four in Illinois, 25 in Indiana, nine in Kentucky, 23 in Alabama, and two in Georgia. 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 2024
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 around Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Morgan County, Alabama, associating with W3-17 (F).

W14-21 (M) is in Hopkins County, Kentucky, with W3-20 (F).

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

85-21 (M) is still around Wheeler NWR in Morgan County, Alabama, associating with 7-11 (F).

W1-22 (U) is still around Wheeler NWR in Morgan County, Alabama, often seen within large mixed flocks of both Sandhill and Whooping Cranes.

2023 Cohort

W9-23 (F) is still around Wheeler NWR in Morgan County, Alabama. She has been seen within groups of adult Whooping Cranes.

W12-23 (M) is still with his parents, 24-08 and 13-02. The group moved slightly north to Madison County, Alabama.

W13-23 (U) was last seen in December with their parents, 12-11 and 5-11, in Lawrence County, Illinois.

15-23 (F) is still with 15-11 and W6-18. The group moved slightly further south to Knox County, Indiana.

21-23 (M) and 22-23 (F) are still in Hopkins County, Kentucky, with 2-04 and W14-19.

16-23 (F), 17-23 (F), 19-23 (M), 20-23 (F), and 23-23 (M) are still together in Putnam County, Indiana.

Mortality and Long-term Missing

18-23 (F) was found dead in Putnam County, Indiana, in January. She died from injuries sustained after a collision with either a fence or powerline. W1-18 (F) was last seen on her breeding territory at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County, Wisconsin, in July 2023. Since then, her mate (W6-18) has been associating with a different female (15-11) and migrated to Greene County, Indiana. We assume W1-18 has died and is now considered long-term missing.


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