EMP Monthly Update

Whooping Crane Update – January 3, 2018 

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month most Whooping Cranes have reached their wintering grounds. 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 110 (50 F, 57 M, 3 U). As of 3 January, 1 Whooping Crane is still in Wisconsin, 7 in Illinois, 32 in Indiana, 8-10 in Kentucky, 8-9 in Tennessee, 26 in Alabama, 2 in Georgia, 5 in Florida, and 2 in Louisiana. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. See maps below.

2017 Wild-hatched chicks
W3_17 (U) is still with its parents (24_09 and 42_09) in Hopkins Co, KY.

W7_17 (F) is still with her parents (14_08 and 24_08) in Morgan Co, AL.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort
19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) are still in Jackson Co, AL with adults 2_15 and 28_05.

26_17 (F) was found dead on 16 December in Wabash Co, IL (see below).

28_17 (M) has not been seen since November in Walworth Co, WI. He has likely left this area but has not been confirmed further south.

24_17 (M) left Jasper Co, IN with adult 63_15 and is currently in Randolph Co, IL.

72_17 (M) is still in Hendry Co, FL.

30_17 (F) is still in Plaquemines Parish, LA.

38_17 (F) is alone in Dodge Co, WI. Capture attempts are being made to translocate her further south.

39_17 (F) left Wisconsin during December and is currently in Jasper Co, IN.
36_17 (F) left Jasper Co, IN and is currently in Madison Co, FL.

Costume-Reared 2017 Cohort
3_17 (M) and 7_17 (F) continued south and are currently in Morgan Co, AL.

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) left Wisconsin and are currently in Effingham Co, IL.

1_17 (M), 2_17 (F), and 8_17 (F) were translocated on 12 December from Green Lake Co, WI to Greene Co, IN. That same day, they continued further south and are now currently in Madison Co, AL.

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort
29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) are still in Dyer Co, TN.

30_16 (M) and 5_12 (M) are still at St. Mark’s NWR in Wakulla Co, FL.

31_16 (M) has not been seen since November in Wisconsin.

33_16 (F) is still along the Mississippi River either in Clinton Co, IA or Carroll Co, IL.

69_16 (F) is still at Wheeler NWR in Morgan Co, AL.

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

71_16 (F) left 63_15 and 24_17 in Indiana, and went to her previous wintering area in Jackson Co, IN before heading to Rhea Co, TN and now Madison Co, FL.

The remains of 26_17 were found on 16 December in Wabash Co, IL, where she had been for a few weeks. The cause of her mortality is unknown.

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  1. Mindy January 7, 2018 8:17 pm

    Praying for your capture efforts of 38-17 to get her to warmer climate…Thank you for rescuing that poor Sandie too….Bless all of you for your hard work!

  2. wilson January 5, 2018 1:16 am

    Is that 1 crane really “still in Wisconsin” as of Jan. 3, after a week with overnight temps below 0? If so, I’m surprised any of them ever bothered to fly to Florida. The ability to survive a week with such temperatures should mean they could survive anything Tennessee could ever throw at them, if they had enough to eat.

    Or is it that the crane was confirmed there sometime in the last couple weeks, and the phrasing “still in Wisconsin” on Jan. 3 wasn’t very precise.

    • Heather Ray January 5, 2018 5:51 am

      Yes, she is still in Wisconsin, which is certainly not ideal and many capture attempts have failed thus far. With no water to roost in, she is susceptible to predation and she is eating snow for water and corn from the bait station. Until last week she was associating with a lone Sandhill who had a broken wing. The Sandhill was captured (because it couldn’t fly) and is now at a rehab facility. Capture attempts for the long Whooping crane continue and once successful, she will be transported to Wheeler NWR in North Alabama.

  3. Barb January 4, 2018 5:11 pm

    As its going now, by the time they reach the Gulf Coast, it’ll be time to fly North to their breeding grounds! 🙂

    • Heather Ray January 5, 2018 5:52 am

      Not all cranes in the EMP fly to Florida. If they can find suitable wintering grounds between Wisconsin and the Gulf coast, why bother?

  4. Bikebrains January 4, 2018 4:48 pm

    Is there any news about the 2017 bird that is in southern Florida? Did the bird travel to Florida with other birds and just kept going south? Is there a history of WHCRs going south of Chassahowitzka NWR?

    • Heather Ray January 5, 2018 5:53 am

      Yes, a number of Whoopers over the years have flown to south Florida. In this case, 72-17 is traveling with Sandhill cranes.

  5. Maggie January 4, 2018 3:41 pm

    I’d like to just take 38-17 further south than the Horicon Marsh area where she seems to be staying but I am not that talented.. Sure hope someone can help her through this cold winter that Mother Nature has been thrusting our way. Poor baby.

  6. Dick Brooks January 4, 2018 10:53 am

    If D Pellerin is still monitoring Dodge county female, bravo. I wish them well in thier efforts to move her southward but it seems as if many of the cranes are enduring temps well below freezing. Thanks for the updates.

  7. Bikebrains January 4, 2018 10:46 am

    The distribution is interesting. To use truck driving terminology, there are up to 49 “short haul” cranes (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky) but only 5 “long haul” cranes (Florida). The greatest gift that the ultralight led migrations provided was a long list of safe places to spend the winter. Mission accomplished.

    • Heather Ray January 4, 2018 10:57 am

      the 2 in Louisiana would also be “long haul” 🙂

  8. Meg Lunnum January 4, 2018 10:31 am

    It seems as if all the cranes are coping well with the nasty weather!

  9. Cheryl Murphy January 4, 2018 8:37 am

    Thank you the update. Many many thanks to all who help these great birds.