EMP – Whooping Crane Update

July 3, 2018

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month nesting season has ended. 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). This does not include wild-hatched chicks. As of 3 July, at least 81 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, 3 in Michigan, 2 in Illinois, 3 in Iowa, and 1 in Minnesota. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. See maps below.


As of 3 July, we have had at least ten chicks hatch from 7 of 23 total nests in Wisconsin. We currently have two Whooping Crane (first) nests for which we have not yet confirmed the outcome. In total, we had 18 first nests and 5 re-nests. One egg was pulled from each of four nests at Necedah NWR, as an effort to supplement captive breeding for this year’s release cohort, and increase chick survival. Chicks hatched from 5 first nests and 2 re-nests (not including the two unknown first nests). Chicks in bold are currently alive.

Unknown status: 3-11/7-11 in Adams County, 5-10/28-08 in Marathon Co.

Eggs pulled: One egg was pulled from each of the following nests: W3-10/8-04, 32-09/19-10, 16-07/1-04, 36-09/18-03.

Did not hatch: 9-03/3-04 first nest Juneau Co, 13-03/9-05 Juneau Co, 34-09/4-08 Juneau Co, W1-06/1-10 Juneau Co, 36-09/18-03 Juneau Co, 59-13/1-11 St. Croix Co, 27-14/10-11 Marquette Co, 3-14/4-12 Green Lake Co, 32-09/19-10 Juneau Co, 2-04/25-09 Juneau Co.

W1-18 and W2-18 hatched to parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Juneau Co, WI. W1-18 is currently still alive.

W3-18 and W4-18 hatched to parents 24-09 and 42-09 in Adams Co, WI. The two chicks were confirmed on 5 June but likely hatched around 27 May. The family was seen with only one chick on 18 June. W3-18 is currently alive and with its parents.

W3-18 with #24-09 (Dad) in Adams County, WI. Photo: Lori Verhagen

W5-18 hatched to parents W3-10 and 8-04 in Juneau Co, WI. This chick was confirmed on 5 June but likely hatched around 30 May. As of 3 July, W5-18 is suspected to be dead but it is not yet confirmed.

W6-18 hatched to parents 1-04 and 16-07 by 7 June in Juneau Co, WI, and is still alive.

Two chicks have hatched to parents 9-03 and 3-04 in Juneau Co on 11 and 13 June, one of which is still alive.

One chick hatched to parents 14-08 and 24-08 on 13 June in Juneau Co, and is still alive.

One chick hatched to parents 4-08 and 23-10 on 20 June in Juneau Co, and is still alive.

These remaining four chicks have not yet been named. They will be given ID numbers once we have confirmed the fates of two nests that should have hatched in early-mid June. 

2017 Wild-hatched chicks

W3_17 (U) is still in Adams Co, WI, with 39_16.

W7_17 (F) was last reported in Wright Co, MN.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort

19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) are either in Marathon Co or Clark Co, WI, and have met up with 36_17 (F).

28_17 (M) is in Marquette Co, WI, near his original release area.

24_17 (M) is still in Dane Co, WI.

72_17 (M) is in Ingham Co, MI.

38_17 (F) is still in Dodge Co, WI, where she was released in the fall.

39_17 (F) is still in Outagamie Co, WI.

Costume-Reared 2017 Cohort

7_17 is still with 4_14 (M) in Green Lake Co.

3_17 was last seen in Stephenson Co, IL with 31_16 (M).

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) are still in Brown Co, WI.

1_17 (M), 2_17 (F), and 8_17 (F) have moved around quite a bit but are currently in Franklin Co, IA.


None known during June (with the exception of wild-hatched chicks – see above).

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