Whooping Crane Update

Whooping Crane Update, 16 December 2013 – 28 February 2014

The following map indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, are known to have moved from a previous location or that are long term missing. 

WCEPMapEndFeb2014

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 103 birds (59 males and 44 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period or last record included 29 cranes in Indiana, 10 in Illinois, 9 in Tennessee, 7 in Kentucky, 15 in Alabama, 2 in Georgia, 15 in Florida, 13 at unknown locations and 3 not reported in ten or more months. The total for Florida includes 8 newly released juveniles. Long term missing cranes nos. 12-07 and 16-10 are now considered dead and are removed from the population totals above.

Mortalities

Breeding pair nos. 33-07 and 5-09 were shot on their wintering grounds in Hopkins/Muhlenberg Counties, Kentucky, in late November. They were last confirmed alive on 20 November and female no. 5-09 was reported injured on 24 November. She was captured and transported to a rehab facility but had to be euthanized. No. 33-07’s remains were located about 5 miles away approximately 2 ½ weeks after no. 5-09 was first reported injured.

Direct Autumn Release juveniles nos. 50-13, 51-13 and 54-13 died in Tazewell County, Illinois, sometime in late December to mid January. Scattered feathers and the radio transmitter of no. 51-13 were discovered on 17 January, however due to snow and ice at the location the remains of the others have yet to be located. Based on satellite readings from no. 54-13, her death may have occurred on 27 December-1 January.

The signal for female no. 35-09 was detected in Greene County, Indiana, during an aerial survey flight on 12 February and her remains were collected from this location on 19 February.

2012 Cohort

Nos. 4-12 and 5-12 remained on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, throughout the report period. No. 7-12 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama throughout the report period.

No. 11-12 left the St. Marks NWR pensite in Wakulla County, Florida, on 9 February 2013.  No subsequent reports (see below).

No. 14-12 remained in Brevard County, Florida, through at least last report on 13 February.

No. 15-12 was reported possibly leaving on migration with sandhill cranes from Hendry County, Florida, in late February or early March 2013. No subsequent reports (see below).

No. 16-12 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama until beginning migration on 16-25 February. He was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on 26 February.

2013 Cohort 

Direct Autumn Release

Nos. 50, 51, and 54-13 were last seen alive in Mason County, Illinois, on 24 December 2013. All three died in nearby Tazewell County after this sighting (see above).

No. 57-13 remained near the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, until beginning migration from this location on 17/18 February. He was reported in Jackson County, Indiana, on 19 February. He was not located during a check of the area on 21 February.

No. 59-13 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama throughout the report period.

Ultralight

The eight juveniles in the ultralight cohort remained on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

Parent-Reared

No. 22-13 began migration from near the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 17/18 February with adults nos. 5-05 and 32-09. They were reported in Hardin County, Kentucky, on 18 February and had arrived in Washington County, Indiana, by 21 February where they remained.

No. 24-13 remained with pair nos. 2-04 and 8-09 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, throughout the report period. Four other adults are also in the area (see photo below).

1-10 34-09 24-13 2-04 8-09 24 42-09, Hopkins Co KY, 12feb14

Whooping cranes 1-10, 34-09, 24-13, 2-04, 8-09, 24-09 & 42-09 in Kentucky, on 12 February, 2014

No recent reports

Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April 2013.

Female no. 11-12 left the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge pensite in Wakulla County, Florida, on 9 February 2013.

Male no. 15-12 was last reported possibly leaving on migration with sandhill cranes from Hendry County, Florida, in late February or early March.

Long Term Missing

Male no. 12-07 was last observed on the Necedah NWR in Wisconsin on 25 April 2012. He has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked. He is now considered dead and has been removed from the population totals above.

Female no. 16-10 was last observed with sandhill cranes in Ottawa County, Michigan, on 6 May 2012. She is now considered dead and has been removed from the population totals above.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.  To access our previous project updates and additional information on the project visit our web site at http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/.

We thank Windway Aviation Corp. and pilot Jerry Burns for aerial tracking assistance. We also thank Travis Stoelting (Indiana DNR), John Pohl, Marty Jones, Rick Houlk, Charles Murray, Dan Troglin, Dan Kaiser and the staff at the Wheeler NWR for tracking assistance.

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