Population Update

Whooping Crane Update – As of August 1, 2018 

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month birds haven’t moved much, and our first chick has fledged! 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 101 (47 F, 51 M, 3 U). This does not include wild-hatched chicks. As of 1 August, at least 74 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, 3 in Michigan, possibly 3 in Illinois, 2 in Iowa, and 3 in Minnesota. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month or two. See maps below.


As of 1 August, we have had at least ten chicks hatch in Wisconsin, six of which are still alive, and one of which has fledged. Chicks in bold are currently alive.

W1_18 and W2_18 hatched to parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Juneau Co, WI. W1-18 fledged in late July.

W3_18 and W4_18 hatched to parents 24-09 and 42-09 in Adams Co, WI. W3-18 is currently alive and with its parents and has been banded.

Whooping crane #W3-18 was recently banded. Photo: D. Pellerin

W6_18 is still alive and with its parents 1-04 and 16-07 in Juneau Co, WI.

W7_18 and W8_18 hatched to parents 9-03 and 3-04 in Juneau Co. W7_18 is still alive.

W9_18 hatched to parents 14-08 and 24-08 in Juneau Co, and is still alive. We believe 14_08 may be dead since we have seen 24_08 alone with the chick for most of July (see below).

W10_18 hatched to parents 4-08 and 23-10 in Juneau Co, and is still alive. 

2017 Wild-hatched chicks

W3_17 (U) is still in Adams Co, WI, with 39_16. W3_17 was captured during July to be banded with uniquely colored bands and a VHF transmitter.

W7_17 (F) is still in Wright Co, MN.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort

19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) left Clark County for Barron County Wisconsin during July, and are currently in Sibley Co, MN.

28_17 (M) is still in Marquette Co, WI.

24_17 (M) is in Rock Co, WI.

72_17 (M) is still 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) in mid-May.

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) moved around a bit but are back in Brown Co, WI.

1_17 (M), 2_17 (F), and 8_17 (F) have split up and 1_17 and 2_17 are currently in Franklin Co, IA. 8_17 was last seen in Sangamon Co, IL, but her whereabouts are now unknown.


We believe 14_08 (M) has died during July. We have seen his mate 24_08 alone with their chick for most of July. 14_08 was last seen 14 June. We have not found a carcass to confirm this mortality, or to determine cause of death, however due to the behavior of his mate, and the unlikeliness of 14_08 leaving his family group, we have removed him from the population totals above.

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  1. Donna August 4, 2018 2:19 pm

    Is it possible to visit your facility and see a whooping crane? The work u do is greatly appreciated. West

    • Heather Ray August 4, 2018 6:14 pm

      The best place to see one is at the International Crane Foundation. They have a lovely display featuring two Whooping cranes.
      Currently the Whooping cranes in/around White River Marsh are still deep in the marsh. We haven’t seen them in months.

  2. Cheryl Murphy August 3, 2018 1:34 pm

    Thanks so much for the update. We remain eternally hopeful.

  3. Richard P Brooks August 3, 2018 9:07 am

    Thank you for the update. Does 38-17 associate with other cranes or fly around much?

    • Heather Ray August 3, 2018 5:28 pm

      she can certainly fly

  4. Dana Courtney August 3, 2018 8:17 am

    Thank you for thorough report! Appreciate the update and most of all your stick with it ness!!!