Monthly Whooping Crane UPdate

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. During February, most Whooping Cranes began migration and at least one has returned to Wisconsin. 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 101 (46 F, 53 M, 2 U). As of 1 March, Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. Many birds have begun moving north by the end of February, so the distribution is changing daily. See map below.

2015 Wild Chicks

W10_15 and 24_13 were in Greene County, IN during February

W18_15 and male 16-04 were reported in Knox Co, IN during February.  

Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) left Wheeler NWR and is currently in Jasper Co, Indiana.

20_15 (M) spent all of February in Saint Martin Parish, LA.

DAR 2015 Cohort

61_15 (F), 63_15 (M), and 67_15 (F) continue to be in Randolph Co, IL.

65_15 (F) and 27_14 (F) have left Wheeler NWR, and have begun migration.

66_15 (F) and 68_15 (F) began migration north and were both reported in LaPorte County, IN.  

UL 2015 Cohort

2_15 (F) left on migration and was in Jasper Co, IN in the same area as 71_16 by the end of February.

6_15 (F) and 38-09 left Wheeler NWR, and are currently in Greene Co, IN.

8_15 (F) spent all of February in Sumter Co, AL.

10_15 (F), and 11_15 (M) left Wheeler NWR, AL and began migration north. They were seen in Lasalle Co, IL by the end of February with one other Whooping Crane who could not be identified.   

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) spent all of February in Dyer Co, TN.

30_16 (M) is with 4_12 and 3_14 in Miller Co, GA.

31_16 (M) and 38_16 (M) spent February in Poinsett Co, Arkansas.

33_16 (F) spent all of February in Citrus Co, FL.

69_16 (F) left Wheeler NWR presumably with 1_11 and 59_13, and is currently in northwestern Indiana.

70_16 (M) is still at Wheeler NWR, AL.

71_16 (F) left Jackson Co, IN and headed north to Jasper Co, IN. She is in the same vicinity as 2_15. 

Long-term missing

There were no reported mortalities during February, but 26-10 and 19-05 are long-term missing and are now removed from the population totals above.

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  1. Rolando March 3, 2017 10:47 pm

    Please reminds us of the meaning of cohorts parents reared etc. Also would love to see a review of the new strategy aa opposed to the ultra light flights Thanks for your dedication and love for the cranes.

  2. Dorothy N March 3, 2017 8:25 pm

    Thanks for the update.
    I was going to ask which whooper is in Wisconsin, but that question seems to be an extremely popular one, so I’ll just wait patiently to find out the answer.

    • Heather Ray March 5, 2017 12:34 pm

      It appears to be male 18-11 in Dodge County, WI.

    • Heather Ray March 5, 2017 12:44 pm

      It appears to be male 18-11 in Dodge County, WI

  3. Kathleen March 3, 2017 12:48 pm

    Greetings and thanks for the update. I don’t see in your description any mention of who is represented by the dot in southern Wisconsin. Any further info on that bird?

    • Heather Ray March 5, 2017 12:45 pm

      According to the database it is male 18-11 in Dodge Co., WI

  4. Mollie Cook March 3, 2017 9:40 am

    Which Whooper is back in WI?

    • Heather Ray March 3, 2017 10:15 am

      I have asked and am waiting on a response.

  5. Linda March 3, 2017 8:40 am

    Who is in Wi?

    • Heather Ray March 3, 2017 10:15 am

      I have asked and am waiting on a response.

  6. Karen Anne March 3, 2017 8:04 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but when the ultralight flights were happening, the population seemed to be slowly inching up. That seems to be no longer the case.

    • Heather Ray March 3, 2017 8:14 am

      The pop. number has been holding steady since 2011 when the Louisiana reintroduction came on board. Only so many eggs to go around.

      • karen anne March 6, 2017 7:49 am

        Yes, I personally think Louisiana is a mistake. It is a killing field there in terms of cranes being shot.

        • Heather Ray March 6, 2017 9:19 am

          They have had a number of shootings, however the EMP is not immune to shootings either. LA currently has 4 active nests. If some of these survive to fledge, this should prove costume rearing is not the issue.

    • nancy pauline kincaid March 3, 2017 9:35 am

      Heather, I have reported and I’m sure others have reported the 2 whoopers on Rt.33 s.of Russelville,Il along the Wabash river. Just wondering why they weren’t on the list? They’ve been there for several weeks. Thanks, Nancy

      • Heather Ray March 3, 2017 10:14 am

        We are aware of their presence but the monthly reports contain only the locations (by county/state) of juvenile cranes. All others are included on the map as “Adult cranes”