EMP Whooping Crane Update

August, 3, 2017 – Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, we have been monitoring wild-hatched chicks, and most adults have stayed in their summer locations. One of the wild-hatched chicks has fledged and another is close to fledging. 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 95 (43 F, 50 M, 2 U). This does not include 2017 wild-hatched chicks. As of 1 August, at least 85 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Wisconsin, 1 in South Dakota, 2 in North Dakota, 1 in Michigan, and 1 in Kentucky. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during July. See map below.

2017 Wild-hatched chicks

There are currently two wild-hatched chicks alive in Wisconsin. 

W3_17 hatched ~4 May to parents 42-09/24-09 in Adams Co, WI. W3_17 has fledged and has been seen flying with its parents.

W7_17 hatched ~30 May to parents 14-08/24-08 in Juneau Co, WI.

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) spent all of July in Ward County, North Dakota.

30_16 (M) is still in Green Lake Co, WI with 5_12 (M).

31_16 (M) spent all of July in Winnebago Co, WI.

33_16 (F) moved from Murray Co, MN to Day Co, SD, where she is currently.

69_16 (F) moved from Fond du Lac County, WI down to Jefferson Co, WI. She also has separated from 65_15 (F).

70_16 (M) is still in Knox County, KY.

71_16 (F) spent all of July in Winnebago Co, WI.


20_14 (F) was found dead on 3 July 2017 at Necedah NWR. Predation is the suspected cause of mortality. 20_14’s chick (W15_17) was seen with mate 37_07 after 20_14’s death, but was then also lost likely to predation (see above).  

16_02 (M) was last seen on 21 July 2017. His carcass was recovered on 28 July 2017. The cause of death remains unknown, but there may be some indication of predation.

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  1. dorothyk August 4, 2017 11:43 pm

    What do you think is going on with the 2 in North Dakota and the one in South Dakota?? That’s pretty far afield. Are they maybe with sandhills? Also, I see that the one in southern Michigan is still there.

    • Heather Ray August 5, 2017 4:34 am

      The three to the NW are yearlings. It’s very typical for yearlings to wander when they haven’t yet found mates or have an established territory to defend. They’ll very likely head back to WI before heading south for the winter. Number 14-12 has a territory in Michigan. He’s been returning to that location for years.