Whooping Crane Update

October 1, 2017

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month we have begun releasing the parent-reared juveniles. 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 (42 F, 55 M, 4 U). This includes two fledged 2017 wild-hatched chicks (unknown sex), and the six released parent-reared juveniles. As of 1 October, at least 89 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Wisconsin, 1 in Iowa, 1 in Michigan, and 1 in Kentucky. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during September. See maps below.

2017 Wild-hatched chicks
There are currently two wild-hatched chicks alive in Wisconsin, both of which have fledged.

W3_17 is still with its parents in Adams Co, WI.

W7_17 is still with its parents in Juneau Co, WI.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort
19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) were released 14 September in Marathon Co, WI near adults 2_15 (F) and 28_05 (F). 19_17 is often seen associating with the adults, and 25_17 has occasionally been seen with the adults. 19_17 has been flying a bit further out than 25_17, but both have been roosting in the same marsh as the adults.

26_17 (F) and 28_17 (M) were released 18 September in Marquette Co, WI near adults 27_14 (F) and 10_11 (M). 26_17 has been using some of the same fields as the adults and 28_17 has been exploring a much larger area.

24_17 (M) was released 20 September in Dodge Co, WI near adult 66_15 (F). He has been roosting in the same marsh as 66_15 and has begun exploring the surrounding fields, often with Sandhill Cranes.

72_17 (M) was released 26 September in Winnebago Co, WI near adult 71_16 (F). The two have been seen foraging in the same field, but have not yet been regularly associating. 72_17 has been flying around the area and has also been associating with Sandhill Cranes.

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort
29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) left Ward County, ND and are currently in Marathon Co, WI.

30_16 (M) is still in Green Lake Co, WI, associating with 5_12 (M). These two have also been seen associating with the captive-reared cohort near the pen at White River Marsh SWA.

31_16 (M) spent all of September in Winnebago and Waushara Counties, WI.

33_16 (F) continues to be in Clinton Co, IA.

69_16 (F) left Jefferson Co, and spent most of September in Dane Co, WI.

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

71_16 (F) spent all of September in Winnebago Co, WI. On 26 September, 72_17 was released in the same area as 71_16 (see above).

61_15 (F) was found dead on 21 September 2017 in Dodge County, WI. She had likely been dead for a while and the cause of death is unknown. She was last seen in the area on 30 August 2017.

Full extent of Whooping Crane locations as of 1 October 2017.

Zoomed in map of Wisconsin locations of Whooping Cranes as of 1 October 2017.

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  1. Carole October 7, 2017 2:11 pm

    I am thrilled that one is in SE Michigan; probably hanging with his Sandhill cousins. There is a good population of Sandhills in the area around Jackson, MI.

  2. Susanne Shrader October 4, 2017 12:13 pm

    That is great news about the two wild hatched chicks made it through fledging. I think that’s two more than last year.