WCEP Update – November 1, 2016

Published yesterday by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership:

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month Whooping Cranes have begun migration! A huge thank-you to the staff of Operation Migration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation, and all of 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.

Population Estimate

The current maximum population size is 105 (48 F, 55 M, 2 U). As of 1 November, at least 84 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in WI, 1 is currently in Michigan, 1 in Iowa, 5 in Indiana, and 10 are in Illinois. The remaining 4 birds have not been confirmed in WI yet this year. See map below.

2015 Wild Chicks

W10_15 has been associating with adult male 24_13 and a group of other Whooping Cranes in Juneau County throughout October.

W18_15 was associating with its parents 9-03 and 3-04 in Juneau County at the beginning of October, but then went back to Necedah NWR and was again associating with male 16_04.

Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) has still been in Jefferson Co, WI throughout October. She occasionally associated with 69_16, but did not leave on migration with her.

20_15 (M) is still in Walworth Co, WI where he has been for most of the summer.

DAR 2015 Cohort

61_15 (F), 62_15 (M), 63_15 (M), and 67_15 (F) continue to be at their wintering grounds in Randolph Co. IL.

65_15 (F) and 27_14 (F) spent the beginning of October in Wood Co, WI, but moved back to Marathon County later in the month.

66_15 (F) moved from Racine County to Walworth County in October. She is now loosely associating with female 2_15.

68_15 (F) continues to be in Dunn County, WI during October.

UL 2015 Cohort

1_15 (F) remained in Rock County during October, until her remains were found on 20 October (see below).  

2_15 (F) spent all of October in Walworth County and began loosely associating with female 66_15.

6_15 (F) spent all of October with a group of adult Whooping Cranes in Juneau County, WI.

8_15 (F) spent all of October in Winnebago Co, WI.

10_15 (F), and 11_15 (M) were in Winnebago County in early October, Dodge County, WI, on 13 October, and in LaSalle County, IL by 22 October. 

2016 Wild Chicks

W7_16 was last seen with parents in Juneau County on 27 September. The remains of W7_16 were found on 11 October (see below).  

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) are still in Adams County. Adults 24_09 and 42_09 are in the area and are sometimes seen in the same field as the chicks. 34_16 (F) was found dead on 7 October (see below).

30_16 (M) is still at White River Marsh in Green Lake Co, and is associating with adults 4_12 and 3_14.

31_16 (M) and 38_16 (M) were released in Marquette County near adults 7_14 and 4_13. Female 7_14 was last seen in early October and male 4_13 has started associating with female 8_14 (previous associate of 5_12) in Green Lake County. For most of October, there were no adult Whooping Cranes associating with the juveniles. As of 31 October, they remain near release site in Marquette County, WI.

33_16 (F) and 37_16 (M) were released in Juneau Co near adults 12_11 and 5_11. On 17 October, the remains of 37_16 were found near the release site (see below). 33_16 remained with adults until on 21 October she left on migration. She was seen in Jackson County, Iowa on 26 October.

71_16 (F) was released in Green Lake County in September, but on 4 October flew to Marquette County. She spent the rest of October there and is associating with Sandhill Cranes.

69_16 (F) was released in Dane County, WI near adult 14_15 on 9 October. She remained near release site, sometimes near 14_15, until she left on migration with Sandhill Cranes on 24 October. She was seen on 25 October in Jasper County, Indiana.


Indiana: 69-16 has migrated to Jasper County, IN (see above). Adults 18-03 and 36-09 have migrated to their wintering grounds in Greene County, IN. They arrived on 11 October, which is the earliest report of Whooping Cranes in Greene Co we have had since the beginning of this reintroduction. We have also gotten a report of two Whooping Cranes in Gibson County, but have not yet identified the individuals.

Illinois: The four 2015 DAR birds (61-15, 62-15, 63-15, 67-15) have spent the summer at their wintering grounds in Randolph County, IL, and continue to be there throughout October (see above). 10-15 and 11-15 have also migrated to Illinois, and are currently in LaSalle County (see above). We also received a report of at least four Whooping Cranes in Wayne County IL, but we have not yet been able to identify individuals.

Iowa: Juvenile 33-16 migrated to Jackson County, Iowa in late October (see above).


W7_16 was last seen in an agricultural field in Juneau County with parents 12_03 and 29_09 on 27 September. The remains of W7_16 were collected on 11 October, but not enough of the carcass was left to determine cause of death. Predation is suspected due to tracks and scat in the area.

34_16 was found dead on 7 October in Adams County near the release site. Some signs of lethargy were noted on 6 October. The cause of death was predation.

37_16 was last seen on 15 October with 33_16 and adults 5_11 and 12_11 near the release site in Juneau County, WI. His remains were collected 17 October in the same area and the suspected cause of death is predation.

1_15 was found dead on 20 October in Rock County, WI. The preliminary results suggest predation as the likely cause of death.

7_14 was last seen in late September. Her mate 4_13 was then seen with female 8_14, and 4_13 chased off 8_14’s previous associate male 5_12. This behavior leads us to believe 7_14 may be dead, but we have not found a carcass in the area and cannot confirm this suspected mortality.

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  1. Pete Weber November 3, 2016 3:05 pm

    Correction…….14-08 with 24-08

  2. Pete Weber November 3, 2016 9:10 am

    The 4 birds were in Richland County, Il. They have now been ID’d as 24-13M with W10-15 and 14-08M with 24-18F.