EMP UPdate time!

May 1, 2017 

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, breeding Whooping Cranes have begun nesting. 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 May, at least 86 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Wisconsin, 1 in Illinois, and 1 in Tennessee. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during April. See map below.


To date there have been 24 confirmed nests by 23 pairs in Juneau, Adams, Marathon, St. Croix, and Green Lake counties, Wisconsin. This year marks the first nest of a parent-reared Whooping Crane in the EMP as well as the first nest in the Eastern Rectangle. There are currently five active first nests and two active re-nests. One of these nests may have hatched 30 April, but it has yet to be confirmed. Four nests failed naturally, and eggs from 13 nests were collected as a part of the forced re-nesting experiment. Chicks hatched from these eggs will be released into the Eastern Migratory Population in the fall of 2017. We expect re-nesting by pairs whose first nests failed to begin during May.

Active first nests: 24-09/42-09 Adams Co, 3-11/7-11 Adams Co, 5-10/28-08 Marathon Co, 34-09/4-08 Juneau Co, 4-12/3-14 Green Lake Co, 12-11/5-11 Juneau Co (possibly hatched)

Active re-nests: 36-09/18-03 Juneau Co.

Failed nests: 59-13/1-11 St. Croix Co, 19-14/12-05 Juneau Co, 36-09/18-03 Juneau Co, and 24-08/14-08 Juneau Co

Eggs collected, Forced Re-nest all in Juneau Co: 13-03/9-05, W1-06/1-10, 12-03/29-09, 32-09/7-07, 18-02/13-02, 9-03/3-04, 25-09/2-04, 26-09/27-06, 17-11/19-11, 16-07/1-04, 10-10/41-09, 17-07/10-09, W3-10/8-04

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) migrated north to Wisconsin and are currently in Chippewa County, WI.

30_16 (M) spent all of April in Green Lake Co, WI. He was last seen associating with 5_12 (M).

31_16 (M) left Arkansas and migrated north to Stephenson Co, IL, where he is currently.

33_16 (F) left Florida and spent part of April in Carroll County, IL. By the end of the month she was in Dane Co, WI.

71_16 (F) spent all of April in Grant Co, WI.

70_16 (M) left Wheeler NWR, AL during April and flew north to Hardin County, TN. He has made a couple of short trips but is still spending most of his time in Hardin County.

69_16 (F) spent all of April associating with 65_15 (F). These two have been moving around during April and even made a trip south to northwestern Indiana. They are currently in Fond du Lac County, WI. 


There were no mortalities confirmed during April.

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  1. Rene Jones May 3, 2017 11:50 am

    Technically didn’t W1-06 produce “the first nest of a parent-reared Whooping Crane in the EMP” ?

    • Heather Ray May 3, 2017 4:24 pm

      Technically, yes, you’re right but I believe the partnership is referring to the captive-bred-yet-parent-reared (in captivity) cranes 🙂