EMP UPdate Time!

Whooping Crane Update – May 1, 2018 

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month Whooping Cranes have started nesting season, despite an April snowstorm in 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 estimated population size is 102 (47 F, 52 M, 3 U). As of 1 May, at least 79 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, 3 in Michigan, 3 in Illinois, and 1 in Iowa. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. See map below.


As of 1 May, we have one active Whooping Crane nest. The eggs were pulled from one nest as a part of a forced re-nesting management tool to avoid nest abandonment’s during the black fly hatch. 3-5 first nests at Necedah NWR were abandoned likely due to a snowstorm over the weekend of April 13-14 and a freezing of the marshes.

Incubating: 12-11 and 5-11 are currently incubating in Juneau Co, WI.

Forced re-nest: 14-08 and 24-08’s first eggs were pulled on 30 April.

Abandoned: Pairs 9-03/3-04, W1-06/1-10, 13-03/9-05, and likely also 36-09/18-03, 16-07/1-04 were incubating on 13 April prior to a snow storm, and as of 27 April were no longer incubating. 

2017 Wild-hatched chicks

W3_17 (U) is still in Adams Co, WI, likely with one other sub-adult.

W7_17 (F) left Edwards Co, IL and was last reported in Iowa Co, IA.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort

19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) migrated back to Wisconsin, took a trip over to Dakota Co, MN, and are now back in WI in Polk Co.

28_17 (M) migrated back to Wisconsin and was last seen in Green Lake Co.

24_17 (M) has returned to Wisconsin and is currently in Walworth Co.

72_17 (M) migrated north to Jackson Co, MI.

30_17 (F) migrated back to Lake Co, IL, where her remains were collected on 23 April (see below).

38_17 (F) is still in Dodge Co, WI.

39_17 (F) migrated north to Michigan during April, but then made it back around Lake Michigan and is currently in Outagamie Co, WI.

36_17 (F) migrated back to Wisconsin and went all the way north to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior and is now in Burnett Co, WI.

Costume-Reared 2017 Cohort

3_17 (M) and 7_17 (F) migrated back to Wisconsin and are currently in Green Lake Co.

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) migrated back to Wisconsin and are moving around a lot! They are currently in Washington County.

1_17 (M), 2_17 (F), and 8_17 (F) left Lawrence Co, TN and are currently in Peoria Co, IL.


30-17 died in Lake Co, IL, and her remains were collected on 23 April. Based on satellite telemetry, she likely died on or before 19 April. The cause of death appeared to be predation.

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  1. Sue McCurdy May 1, 2018 3:40 pm

    Thank you so much for the update. Tell all the birdies hello for me.

  2. Grandma May 1, 2018 10:26 am

    Thank you for the updates. I am amazed every time I read them. Thanks to all at OM for their continued dedication to bringing back these magnificent cranes!