EMP Update

Whooping Crane Update – April 1, 2017 

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 99 (45 F, 52 M, 2 U). As of 1 April, most Whooping Cranes have completed migration and are in Wisconsin. However, a few have not yet migrated and are in Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. See map below. A few breeding pairs have begun nest building and a nesting update will be in next month’s report.

2015 Wild Chicks

W10_15 has returned to Wisconsin and was seen alone at Necedah NWR in Juneau County.

W18_15 and male 16-04 have returned to Wisconsin and were seen at Necedah NWR by the end of March.  

Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) has returned to Wisconsin and is currently in Juneau County.

20_15 (M) left Saint Martin Parish, LA by 18 March, and has returned to Wisconsin. He is currently in Adams County, WI.

DAR 2015 Cohort

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

65_15 (F) was in Will County, IL as of 22 March.

66_15 (F) and 68_15 (F) were last reported in LaPorte County, IN, but have likely moved north.  

UL 2015 Cohort

2_15 (F) left Jasper Co, IN and was with female 28_05 in Marathon County, WI by 19 March.

6_15 (F) and 38-09 left Greene Co, IN and are currently in Juneau County, WI.

8_15 (F) spent all of March in Sumter Co, AL. Note: it appears she began migrating north on 2 April).

10_15 (F), and (presumably) 11_15 (M) left Lasalle Co, IL and migrated to Wisconsin by 26 March, and are currently in Green Lake County.  

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

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

30_16 (M) was with 4_12 and 3_14 in Miller Co, GA in March, but by 24 March had returned to Wisconsin and was seen in Green Lake County.

31_16 (M) and 38_16 (M) spent March in Poinsett Co, Arkansas. 38_16 was found dead (see below), but 31_16 continues to be in the area.

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

69_16 (F) left Indiana during March and spent some time in Will County, IL. On 22 March, she left Will County and migrated back to Wisconsin. She spent a little time in Sauk County, before heading to her current location in Wood County, WI.  

70_16 (M) is still at Wheeler NWR, AL, associating with Sandhill Cranes.

71_16 (F) left Jasper Co, IN on 22 March, and headed north to Wisconsin, where she was last reported in Grant County. 


38_16 (M) was in Poinsett County, AR with 31_16 (M), and was found dead on 8 March, likely due to vehicle collision.

8_14 (F) left St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refute with mate 4_13 on 6 March. PTT hits put her in Lowndes County, GA on the same day. Her remains were collected on 26 March and the cause of death is not yet determined.


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  1. Mindy April 3, 2017 10:48 pm

    8-14 Tiny Dancer…You gave us so much joy when we saw you dancing. I know you continue to dance in Heaven. I will see you there….

  2. Susanne Shrader April 3, 2017 9:33 pm

    So much heartache. The tragedies over the last few years are hard to bear: floods, shootings, black flies, cars, predators,……

  3. Catherine Wohlfeil April 3, 2017 9:28 pm

    My heart goes out to 4-13. He lost love twice. May he yet find it to last…

  4. Kay Huey April 3, 2017 11:41 am

    Rest in peace, Little Dancer. I loved you dearly, albeit from afar.