Project Updates – 2015


November | September | July_27 | July_22May_28 | May_5April_1April_16April_14MarchFebruaryJanuary


Whooping Crane Update – November 2015

The adult cranes are starting to move around and flock up in preparation for their fall migration, with one pair already seen in Indiana (see map below). The Ultralight migration is already underway (for updates see Operation Migration’s Field Journal), and the Direct Autumn Release birds have been banded and were officially released at Horicon NWR as of 3 November. The current maximum population size is 100 birds (52 males, 46 females, 2 unknown). Many thanks to our crane trackers at International Crane Foundation, as well as Heather Ray (Operation Migration), Wisconsin DNR pilots Bev Paulan and Mike Callahan, and the volunteers and public all working to help us keep an eye on our birds wherever they may roam.

Wild Chicks

W10_15 was last tracked with its parents (2_04/25_09) on Necedah NWR. Refuge staff has been working to capture and band this chick but so far it has proved elusive.

W18_15 is still with its parents (9_03/3_04) alternating between their summer territory at Necedah NWR and their first staging area farther south in Juneau Co. Internatioanl Crane Foundation staff have been working to capture and band this chick but this family group is also quite wily.

Parent-Reared Chicks

Three chicks raised by whooping cranes at Patuxent National Wildlife Research Center were released near potential surrogate whooping crane pairs at Necedah NWR (two on 20 September, one on 22 September). Though there was some initial interest between the chicks and adults, none of them stayed together very long.

14_15 (F) left Necedah NWR on 10/3, presumably with sandhills, and has been associating with sandhills in the fields and marsh near the Wisconsin River in Sauk Co, WI.

16_15 (M) found dead 10/6 (see “Mortalities” below).

20_15 (M) was tracked briefly in Monroe Co, but by early October was seen in Dubuque, IA. He was alone very close to a heavily populated area – right outside a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant near a highway and was frequently seen in the parking lot. After it became clear he was not following sandhill cranes and did not seem to be moving from the area on his own, ICF staff captured him and released him near 14_15 in Spring Green, WI (full story here). The day after his re-release he disappeared from Spring Green, and is currently located in Madison Co, Louisiana (see attached map) still without a single whooping or sandhill crane in the area. We will continue to monitor his location but for now he is in an appropriate area away from human activity. A big thank you to all the concerned citizens, the Dubuque Audubon Society, and the USFWS staff in Louisiana who helped us keep an eye on him.

DAR Cohort

The Direct Autumn Release birds raised at ICF were banded as of 22 October (see attached transmitter list) and officially released on 3 November 2015. The cohort consists of two males and six females. All birds are currently located at Horicon NWR and have had some encounters with male 18_11 as well as sandhill cranes.

Mortalities

22_13 (M) was found dead on 9/16/15. The suspected cause of death is predation. He was undergoing molt at the time of his death.

W3_15 (F) was found dead in Monroe Co on 9/21/15. The cause of death was pneumonia caused by a fungal infection in the lungs.

16_15 (M) was recovered on 10/6/15. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Map of whooping crane locations, November 2015.


Whooping Crane Update – September 7, 2015

Many thanks to our crane trackers at the International Crane Foundation and Operation Migration, as well as Heather Ray, Wisconsin DNR pilots Bev Paulan and Mike Callahan, and the volunteers and public all working to help us keep an eye on our birds wherever they may roam.

The map below documents the most recent locations of all whooping cranes currently being tracked. Additionally, the transmitter list has been updated. The current maximum population size is 92 birds (50 males, 40 females, 2 unknown), including the three newly-fledged chicks.

Reproduction

There are currently three wild chicks, all located at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
W3_15 has been banded and fitted with a radio transmitter. She has also been confirmed to be female.

Mortalities

7_12 (F) was recovered on 10 June 2015. Unfortunately, cause of death could not be determined due to post-mortem scavenging. Found on territory in Meadow Valley.

6_09 (M) – Mate of 7_12, was recovered on 30 June 2015. The results of the necropsy have not yet been reported. 6_09 was in the midst of molting at the time of his death. Found in Meadow Valley near where 7_12 was recovered.

5_05 (M) was recovered on 2 September 2015. Although the necropsy has not yet been completed, initial observations suggest predation may have been the cause of death.

New Summer Resighting

In July we received an outside observation from a landowner in Walworth County, Wisconsin about a whooping crane seen with a flock of sandhills. Though her bands were difficult to see, several official observers collectively identified the bird as 59_13 (F), a DAR from 2013 whose transmitters failed prematurely. She was last seen in January on her wintering grounds at Wheeler NWA in Alabama. Since 31 July she has been seen consistently in the same area with a large number of sandhill cranes.

Unusual Summer Movements

8_14 (F) returned to Wisconsin from Illinois in July. She was seen frequently in Dodge County throughout August but in early September moved SW to Dane County.

19_14 (F) who had been in northern Wisconsin, and 38_08 (F) who stayed on her wintering grounds at the Wheeler NWR until mid-July both returned to Necedah NWR.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

Map of Whooping Crane locations as of Sept. 7, 2015.


Whooping Crane Update – July 27, 2015: Sandhill / Whooping Crane Hybrid

The hybrid crane colt captured last week is safe and was transferred to the Milwaukee County Zoo, where it will be housed at the facility – together with their lone sandhill crane. There will be no experiments performed on this chick, and we are confident that its well-being is secure.

The colt captured is a whoophill, the result of a successful pairing between a whooping crane and a sandhill crane. This young hybrid was first noticed at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in late May. It is uncertain whether this crane would be capable of reproducing with another crane in the future. However, we believe there is a high probability that this hybrid is sterile. If it is fertile and remains in the wild, it could survive to reproductive status, further complicating biologic integrity of both sandhill and whooping cranes. If it is sterile (most likely) and remains in the wild to adulthood, it could result in a future pairing with another whooping crane. Although this pairing would not result in offspring, it would essentially tie up a fertile whooping crane through this bond, effectively removing another whooping crane from the critical breeding population.

The good news here is we have learned the male whooping crane, 16-11, is a vigilant male that has helped his sandhill mate raise a chick and protect it from predation. Since this male appears to have good parenting skills, we hope he can use these in the future with a whooping crane mate. While some whooping cranes have strong mate fidelity, there are many pairs that swap mates frequently. We are hopeful this will be the case for this pair, to help increase the chance this male whooping crane will help build his species’ population in the future.

It is never easy to take steps to remove an animal from the wild, but we are guided by the scientific expertise of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership and the hope that our efforts will ensure that whooping cranes continue to be a part of our landscape.


Whooping Crane Update – July 22, 2015

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) and staff with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have captured a hybrid crane chick, referred to as a ‘Whoophill,’ in eastern Wisconsin and will place the chick in captivity. Whoophills are a result of a successful pairing between a Whooping crane and a Sandhill crane. This young hybrid was first noticed at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wisconsin in late May.

Leaving the hybrid Whoophill on the landscape does nothing to supplement the Eastern Migratory Whooping Crane Population or further recovery of the species. While we are not yet certain, there is a high probability that this hybrid is sterile. Leaving it in the Eastern Population could result in a future pairing with another Whooping crane, which would not result in offspring, and could thus effectively “remove” another Whooping crane from the breeding population.

We have learned that the male Whooping crane, no. 16-11, is a vigilant father and has helped his Sandhill mate protect the young chick from predation. Researchers are hopeful he can use his parenting skills in the future with a suitable Whooping crane mate.

This young hybrid crane was captured this morning and is being transferred to the Milwaukee County Zoo where it will be housed temporarily before being moved to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, which has agreed to care for it in their captive facility in Maryland.

To increase the chance that the male whooping crane will help build his species’ population in the future, WCEP has decided to attempt to break up the pair. It may involve the male being captured and temporarily placed in captivity near other free-ranging Whooping cranes if the logistics can be worked out. Final decision on the best method and timing to attempt to break up the pair have not been decided.  If captured, WCEP will place a new radio transmitter on the male, which will allow us to effectively monitor his whereabouts over the coming winter/spring.


Whooping Crane Update – May 28 to June 30, 2015

It’s been a very busy month! We’ve had a bumper crop of chicks, a new “species” for the state of Wisconsin, and the 2014 Cohort birds – both Ultralight and Parent-Reared – have been stretching their wings and wandering far and wide. Many thanks to our crane trackers at ICF, as well as Heather Ray, Wisconsin DNR pilots Bev Paulan and Mike Callahan, and the volunteers and public all working to help us keep an eye on our birds wherever they may roam.

The attached map documents the most recent locations of all whooping cranes currently being tracked. It does not include birds not observed within the month of June. The current maximum population size is 92 birds (52 males, 40 females), not including the newly hatched chicks.

Reproduction

We had 24 chicks hatch from 37 nests (32 on refuge, 5 off) this spring. There were 27 separate pairs, 10 of which renested including all 8 nests in the forced renesting experiment Click here for more information on how this experiment was funded. Interesting to note that all 8 pairs forced to renest did successfully hatch chicks, 4 of which are still alive. Six chicks total are currently alive (noted in blue on the map). Please see attachments for the Nesting Summary, Colt Histories, and “Lacy Diagram” (nest chronology and black fly index). Thanks to Brad Strobel for the two diagrams.

Whoophill

In addition to the chicks above we have had the unexpected addition of the only known whoophill chick in Wisconsin. 16_11 (M) is currently paired with a sandhill female and their chick “Whoopsie” is the first chick to be successfully hatched and reared at Horicon (included in “Pairs with Chicks” on the map).

Injury (Recovered)

18_11 (M) was reported with a leg injury 1 April this year. We have been monitoring him closely and while he does still limp his behavior seems otherwise unimpaired.

Mortality

The remains of 20_11 (F) were collected in Green Lake County on 26 June. She was last observed alive on 16 June in the same marsh area. The cause of death is currently unknown.

Birds Outside Wisconsin

38_08 (F) is still at Wheeler NWR (see map). A visual health assessment was performed on 15 June by William Gates, Andrew Cantrell, and others. She was confirmed to be able to fly and appeared to be in good health and uninjured.

8_14 (F) had been seen frequently with 9_14 (F) and 10_14 (F) near their current location (see map) but on 17 June 9 and 10_14 were documented on the runway at White River Marsh, then bounced to Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh, and before they returned to the Fisk area 8_14 had headed south. She is now located in Livingston County, Illinois.

14_12 (M) was formerly in Kent County, Michigan. He was last seen in Steuben Co, Indiana on 7 June.

12_09 (M) was seen in Gibson County, Indiana on 2 June.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

Map of whooping crane locations as of May 28 to June 30, 2015.


Whooping Crane Update – May 5 to 28, 2015

The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, have likely moved from a previous location or that are long term missing. Updated band and transmitter information can be found in the attached document.

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 93 birds (52 males, 41 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 90 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Indiana and 1 in Alabama. This total does not include 9 newly hatched chicks.

Injury

Male no. 18-11 was reported with a left leg injury on 1 April near the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin. He continues to be monitored abd appears to be slowly improving.

Mortalities

The remains of female no. 26-07 were collected from on her (re)nest on 7 May. Two eggs were also present. Death had likely occurred around 5 May.

The carcass of male no. 57-13 was collected in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, on 19 May. His death had likely occurred sometime from 9-11 May.

Previous status unknown

Male no. 10-11 was confirmed back on his former breeding territory in Marquette Co, Wisconsin, on 5 May. He and his former mate no. 7-11 apparently split in early April for unknown reasons.

Reproduction

To date there have been a record total of 37 nests by 27 different pairs. Eight nests failed, 8 had eggs removed as part of a renesting experiment, 4 nests were incubated past full term on nonviable eggs, 13 chicks have hatched from 9 nests so far (two nests still have a second egg that could hatch) and 8 nests are currently active. Click here to see the Nesting Summary.

2013 Cohort

No. 4-13 moved from Waupaca County, Wisconsin, to Marquette County with no. 7-14 on 5 May. Satellite readings for no. 7-14 indicated a roost location in Waushara County on 6 May and at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, on 10 May. They remain in the area and have been seen occasionally associating with no. 9-13.

No. 9-13 remained at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, Wisconsin, throughout the report period and has been seen occasionally associating with nos. 4-13 and 7-14.

No. 22-13 returned to the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, by 6 May. He remained on and near the refuge throughout the remainder of the report period.

No. 24-13 remained in Adams County with female no. 19-14 throughout the report period.

No. 57-13 was found in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, during an aerial survey flight on 5 May. He died at this location on 9-11 May (see above).

No. 59-13 was last reported in Rock County, Wisconsin, on the afternoon of 3 April. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

2014 Cohort

Ultralight

No. 7-14 moved from Waupaca County, Wisconsin, to Marquette County with no. 4-13 on 5 May. Satellite readings indicated a roost location in Waushara County on 6 May and at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, on 10 May. They remain in the area and have been seen occasionally associating with no. 9-13.

Nos. 8, 9 and 10-14 were released at the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on 4 May and moved to Winnebago County that night for roost. Satellite readings indicated roost locations in Waushara County on 5 May; a new Winnebago County location on 8-10 May; Columbia County on 13-20 May and Winnebago County again on 23 May where they remained through at least 25 May.

No. 3-14 moved from Union County, Illinois, to Johnson/Pope Counties, Illinois, on 3 May. She was captured on 12 May and held in a temporary pen until being transported to and released at the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on 15 May with no. 4-14. Satellite readings indicated locations near the Lake Michigan shoreline in Washington County, Wisconsin, on the morning of 19 May and at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, by roost on 20 May. She remained at the Horicon NWR until moving north to Waushara County on 23 May where she was observed alone on 27 May.

No. 4-14 was captured in Union County, Kentucky on 13 May and transported to and released at the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin on 15 May with no. 3-14. He was last detected at this location during an aerial flight on the afternoon of 15 May. His current location is unknown.

Parent-reared

No. 19-14 remained in Adams County with male no. 24-13 throughout the report period.

No. 20-14 returned to the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, by 6 May where she began associating with male no. 11-02 whose mate had just died.

No. 27-14 remained in St. Joseph County, Indiana, through at least roost on 4 May. Satellite readings indicated a roost location in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, on 8 May where she remained through at least roost on 10 May and along the Goodhue/Dakota County, Minnesota, border at roost on 13 May. By late afternoon on 18 May, she had moved back southeast to Dodge County, Wisconsin, where she remains.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

We thank Andrew Cantrell and John Pohl for tracking assistance. We also thank Windway Aviation Corp. and pilots Bev Paulan and Mike Callahan (Wisconsin DNR), Jerry Burns and Bill Murphy for aerial tracking assistance.

Map of whooping crane locations.


Whooping Crane Update – April 1 to May 4, 2015

2015 Nesting Summary through April (PDF)

The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, have likely moved from a previous location or that are long term missing.

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 95 birds (53 males, 42 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 90 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 1 in Illinois, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Indiana, 1 in Kentucky and 1 at an unknown location or not recently reported. Two long term missing birds are now considered dead and have been removed from the population totals above.

Injury

Male no. 18-11 was reported with a left leg injury on 1 April near the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin. His condition has been slowly improving throughout the month.

Mortalities

The heavily scavenged and scattered remains of wild-hatched female no. W3-14 were found on the Necedah NWR during a survey flight on 22 April. She had last been observed alive on 14 April.

The remains of female no. 14-09 were found on her wintering territory in Gibson County, Indiana, on 29 April. She had last been observed alive on 16 April and had apparently died on or by 18 April.

Status unknown

Male no. 10-11 is of unknown status. His former mate, no. 7-11, has re-paired with a new male and is currently nesting in Adams County, Wisconsin. A single crane (bands matching no. 10-11) was reported alone in Dane County on 2 April. A single crane (bands unconfirmed) was also reported here on 3 April. That same day, no. 7-11 was reported alone on their territory in Marquette County. A single crane (bands unconfirmed) was seen on their former nesting territory in Marquette County on 22 April. No subsequent reports. No. 10-11 is still included in the population totals above.

Reproduction

To date there have been a record total of 31 nests, the earliest initiated on 3 April. This total includes renests by four pairs. Three nests failed, 8 nests had eggs removed as part of a renesting experiment, 19 nests are currently active and 1 is suspected to have hatched. More information can be found in the nesting summary document.

Pair nos. 14-09 and 12-09 may have attempted to nest in Gibson County, Indiana, prior to the death of female no. 14-09. Several structures that appear to be possible crane nesting platforms were located in the area however no eggs or egg fragments have been found and therefore nesting activity at this location is currently NOT confirmed but only suspected based on the structures found and the length of time this pair remained in the area. Male no. 12-09 has since returned to Wisconsin.

2012 Cohort

Nos. 4-12 likely completed migration to the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, by 1 April but was not immediately confirmed.

No. 5-12 began migration with HY2014 nos. 3, 4, 8, 9 and 10 on 3 April. He left the group on 8 April in Saline County, Illinois, and  completed migration to Wisconsin on or by 14 April. He remains on and near the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County.

No. 7-12 was found with male no. 6-09 near the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, during an survey flight on 18 April.

No. 14-12 was last reported at his previous summering location in LaPorte County, Indiana, on 28, 29 and 30 March. A report of a single Whooping Crane in Barry County, Michigan, on the morning of 14 April was likely of this bird.

No. 16-12 was found on in Monroe County, Wisconsin, on 3 April where he remains.

2013 Cohort

No. 4-13 remained mainly in Marquette County, Wisconsin, with female no. 7-14 throughout the report period but also briefly visited Green Lake County. Satellite readings for no. 7-14 placed her in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, at roost on 1 May and no. 4-13 is suspected to still be associating with her.

No. 9-13 remained at the Wheeler NWR, Morgan County, Alabama, through at least roost on 3 April. He continued north to Livingston County, Kentucky on or by 5 April where he remained through at least roost on 13 April. Satellite readings placed him in Williamson County, Illinois, on 15 April; Fulton County, Illinois, on 17 April (low precision readings); Vernon County, Wisconsin, on 18 and 19 April; and Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on 21 April. He moved between  Green Lake and Waushara Counties, Wisconsin, until moving south to the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, by 28 April where he remains.

No. 22-13 remained on or near the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, until moving to Wright County, Minnesota, with female no. 20-14 on 18 April where they remained through at least roost on 1 May. Satellite readings indicated a roost location in Clark County, Wisconsin the next night.

No. 24-13 continued north from Vigo County, Indiana, on 1 April. Satellite readings indicated a roost location in Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on 2 May and he completed migration to the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, the following day. He remained on and near the refuge until departing to Adams County, likely with female no. 19-14, on 27 April where he remains.

No. 57-13 remained in Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, through at least 3 March. A datalogger set up at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, Wisconsin, detected his frequency on 24 March. No subsequent reports.

No. 59-13 was last reported in Rock County, Wisconsin, on the afternoon of 3 April. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

2014 Cohort

Wild-hatched

No. W3-14 completed migration to the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, by 8 April. She was found dead during a survey flight on 22 April (see above).

Ultralight

No. 7-14 remained mainly in Marquette County, Wisconsin, with male no. 4-13 throughout the report period but also briefly visited Green Lake County. Satellite readings placed her in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, at roost on 1 May.

Five juveniles began migration with older male no. 5-12 from the release pen at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida on 3 April. They roosted in Elmore County, Alabama, that night and continued north to Fayette County, Alabama, on 4 April; Calloway County, Kentucky, on 5 April and Saline County, Illinois, on 7 April. No. 5-12 continued north on 8 April. The juveniles remained in Saline County until moving directly east to Gallatin County, Illinois, on 18 April. They left this location on 23 April, wandering around in undirected flight for the next few days, roosting in Williamson County on 23 April, Franklin County on 24 April, and Union County, Kentucky, on 25 April where they apparently split into three groups (see below).

Nos. 8, 9 and 10-14 departed Union County, Kentucky on 26 April, heading west and back to Williamson County, Illinois where they remained until being captured and penned on 1 May. They were boxed and transported north by vehicle and were released at the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on the morning of 4 May.

No. 3-14 departed Union County, Kentucky, on 27 April, roosting in Johnson County, Illinois on 27 and 28 April, Pulaski County, Illinois, on 29 April – 1 May, and Union County, Illinois, on 2 May.

No. 4-14 was detected in Union County, Kentucky, on 30 April.

Parent-reared

No. 19-14 remained on or near the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, until moving to Adams County on 26/27 April likely with male no. 24-13.

No. 20-14 remained on or near the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, until moving to Wright County, Minnesota, with male no. 22-13 on 18 April where they remained through at least roost on 1 May. Satellite readings for male no. 22-13 indicate a roost location in Clark County, Wisconsin, on 2 May. No. 20-14 is suspected to still be associating with him.

No. 27-14 remained on or near the Necedah NWR until moving south to Dane County, Wisconsin, on 10/11 April. She continued south on 13 April, roosting in Owen County, Indiana, that night. She moved further south, roosting in Orange County, Indiana, on the night of 15 April and was observed at this location alone the following day. Satellite readings indicated roost locations to the north in Marion County, Indiana, on 17 April and St. Joseph County, Indiana, on 19 April. She was observed in Berrien County, Michigan, on 20 April however returned to St. Joseph County, Indiana, where she remains.

Long term missing

Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April 2013. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked. She is now considered dead and has been removed from the population totals above.

Female no. 27-10 was last detected on the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on 22 April 2014. Her transmitter is likely nonfunctional. She is now considered dead and has been removed from the population totals above.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

We thank Andrew Cantrell, Dan Kaiser, John Pohl, and Amy Kearns (Indiana DNR) for tracking assistance. We also thank Windway Aviation Corp. and pilots Bev Paulan and Mike Callahan (Wisconsin DNR), Jerry Burns and Bill Murphy for aerial tracking assistance.

Map of whooping crane locations as of May 4, 2015.


Whooping Crane Update – April 16-18, 2015

WCEP Field Tracking Manager Eva Szyszkoski was able to get two survey flights (courtesy of Windway Capital) in over the past week. Flights occurred on April 16 and 18 and focused on the current reintroduction area, known as the Wisconsin Rectangle and the former reintroduction area of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

During the flights, Eva noted a total of 50 Whooping cranes with 5 in the Wisconsin Rectangle, which includes Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and White River Marsh State Wildlife Area.

The remaining cranes were located on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and in neighboring counties.

WCEP would like to thank Windway Capital for their ongoing support of the Eastern Migratory Population.


Whooping Crane Update – April 14, 2015

Our partners at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge report a total of 52 whooping cranes have been detected on the Refuge. Several pairs have been observed unison calling, foraging, preening, and displaying territorial behavior (i.e. chasing sandhills). Weather on the refuge has been moderate with large amounts of rain. Although we do not expect any nests have been lost, the water level in several pools with nesting cranes has rapidly increased.

10 whooping crane pairs have been observed incubating.


Whooping Crane Update – March 1 – 31, 2015

The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, have likely moved from a previous location or that are long term missing. Updated band and transmitter information can be found on the attached document.

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 99 birds (53 males, 46 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 72 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 4 in Indiana, 2 in Alabama, 6 in Florida, 13 at unknown locations or not recently reported and 2 long term missing. The total for Florida includes 5 juveniles at the release pen.

Mortality

Juvenile female no. 2-14 was killed by a predator on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, during the night of 15/16 March. Her remains were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison.

[Injury: Male no. 18-11 was reported with a left leg injury on 1 April. He has been under observation.]

2012 Cohort

Nos. 4-12 remained at the pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, until beginning migration with nos. 4-13 and 7-14 on 11 March (see no. 7-14 below).

No. 5-12 remained on and near the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida. He began frequenting the release pen after males nos. 4-12 and 4-13 began migration. [He began migration with the five juveniles on 3 April.]

No. 7-12 remained in Greene County, Indiana, through at least 25 March when she was observed with wild-hatched female no. W3-14. She was not detected at this location during a check on 29 March.

No. 14-12 remained in Osceola County, Florida, through at least last report on 5 March. He was next reported at his previous summering location in LaPorte County, Indiana, on 28, 29 and 30 March.

No. 16-12 was last detected in Jackson County, Indiana, on 6 January. He was confirmed at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 8 January and was last detected at this location the following two days. No subsequent reports.

2013 Cohort

No. 4-13 remained at the pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, before beginning migration with nos. 4-12 and 7-14 on 11 March. He was confirmed with these two birds in Decatur County, Georgia, on 13 March but apparently split from them there or further along on migration and was not detected with the other two in northern Illinois. He was found with no. 7-14 in Marquette County, Wisconsin, during a tracking flight on 31 March.

No. 9-13 began migration from Alachua County, Florida, on 16/17 March. Satellite transmitter readings placed him in Mitchell County, Georgia, on 17 through 28 March. He continued north to the Wheeler NWR, Alabama, on 29/30 March.

No. 22-13 remained at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, until beginning migration (apparently with male no. 37-07) on 8/9 March. Satellite transmitter readings indicated roost locations in Hardin County, Kentucky on 9 March and Morgan County, Indiana, on 11 March. He completed migration to the Necedah NWR, Wisconsin, on 12/13 March.

No. 24-13 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, until moving slightly north into Giles County, Tennessee, by the afternoon of 12 March. He remained at this location through at least roost on 14 March. Satellite transmitter readings indicated locations in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on 15 March; Gibson County, Indiana, on 16 March; and Vigo County, Indiana, on 18 March. He remained at this location for the rest of the report period.

No. 57-13 remained in Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, through at least 3 March. No subsequent reports.

No. 59-13 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, through at least 10 March when she was observed with nos. 38-08, 1-11 and 24-13. She was next reported with sandhill cranes in Rock County, Wisconsin, on 24 March where she stayed for the remainder of the report period. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

2014 Cohort

Wild-hatched

No. W3-14 remained in Greene County, Indiana, through at least 25 March when she was observed with female no. 7-12. She was not detected at this location during a check on 29 March. Her father, no. 12-02, had begun migration with female no. 4-11 on 18-21 March.

Ultralight

No. 2-14 was killed during the report period (see above).

No. 7-14 began migration from the pensite at the St. Marks NWR, Florida, with older males nos. 4-12 and 4-13 on 11 March. The trio was observed in Decatur County, Georgia, on 13 March. Satellite readings from no. 7-14 indicated roost locations in Morgan County, Alabama on 16 March; Humphreys County, Tennessee, on 18-20 March and Henry County, Illinois, on 22 March. She was detected still with no. 4-12 in Whiteside County, Illinois, on 24 March. She arrived in Green County, Wisconsin, by roost on 26 March and Marquette County, Wisconsin, by roost on 28 March and was found with male no. 4-13 during an tracking flight on 31 March.

Five juveniles remained at the release pen at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, with male no. 5-12. [They began migration on 3 April.]

Parent-reared

No. 19-14 remained with pair nos. 7-07 and 39-07 at their wintering location in Lowndes County, Georgia, until beginning migration on 7/8 March. Satellite readings indicated roost locations in Jackson County, Alabama, on 8-13 March; Logan County, Kentucky, on 15 March and Daviess County, Indiana, on 17 March where she was observed with the adult pair. She completed migration to the Necedah NWR, Wisconsin, on 19 March.

No. 20-14 remained in Jackson County, Alabama, presumably with pair nos. 9-05 and 13-03 until beginning migration on 7/8 March. Satellite readings indicated roost locations in Butler County, Kentucky, on 8-10 March. She continued north on 16 March and low precision readings in the early afternoon on this day placed her in Fountain County, Indiana. High precision readings indicated a location in Benton County, Indiana, on the morning of 18 March and she completed migration to the Necedah NWR, Wisconsin, with the adults on 19 March.

No. 27-14 remained with pair nos. 2-04 and 25-09 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, through at least roost on 23 March. She completed migration to the Necedah NWR, Wisconsin, with the adult pair on 31 March.

Long term missing

Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April 2013. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

Female no. 27-10 was last detected on the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on 22 April 2014. Her transmitter is likely nonfunctional.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. To access our previous project updates and additional information on the project visit our web site at http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/.

We thank staff and volunteers from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Andrew Cantrell, Dan Kaiser, Dan Troglin, Rick Houlk, Charles Murray, and John Pohl for tracking assistance. We also thank pilot Bev Paulan (Wisconsin DNR) for aerial tracking assistance.

Map of Whooping Crane locations as of March 31, 2015 or last


Whooping Crane Update – February 1 – 28, 2015

The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, have likely moved from a previous location or that are long term missing.

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 100 birds (53 males, 47 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 22 whooping cranes in Indiana, 7 in Kentucky, 7 in Tennessee, 27 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia, 14 in Florida, 18 at unknown locations or not recently reported and 2 long term missing. The total for Florida includes 7 newly released juveniles.

2012 Cohort

Nos. 4-12 remained at the pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

No. 5-12 remained on and near the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

No. 7-12 remained in Knox/Greene Counties, Indiana, through at least 15 February. No subsequent reports.

No. 14-12 was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on 1 December and had left this location by 5 December. Reports of a crane in Osceola County, Florida, on 18 January, and 2 and 15 February were likely of this bird.

No. 16-12 was last detected in Jackson County, Indiana, on 6 January. He was confirmed at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 8 January and was last detected at this location the following two days. No subsequent reports.

2013 Cohort

No. 4-13 remained at the pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

No. 9-13 remained on and near the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, Florida, through at least roost on 23 February. He moved to a different location in the same county by the morning of 28 February.

No. 22-13 remained at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, throughout the report period and began associating with male no. 37-07.

No. 24-13 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, throughout the report period.

No. 57-13 remained in Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, throughout the report period.

No. 59-13 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, throughout the report period, usually with male no. 1-11.

2014 Cohort

Wild-hatched

No. W3-14 left Lawrence County, Alabama, and returned to Greene County, Indiana, with nos. 12-02, 29-09, 19-10 and 4-11 on 7 February where she remained.

Ultralight

The seven juveniles remained at the release pen at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

Parent-reared

No. 19-14 remained with pair nos. 7-07 and 39-07 at their wintering location in Lowndes County, Georgia, throughout the report period.

No. 20-14 remained in Jackson County, Alabama, presumably with pair nos. 9-05 and 13-03 throughout the report period.

No. 27-14 remained with pair nos. 2-04 and 25-09 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, throughout the report period.

Long term missing

Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April 2013. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

Female no. 27-10 was last detected on the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on 22 April 2014. Her transmitter is likely nonfunctional.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

We thank staff and volunteers from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Andrew Cantrell, Dan Kaiser, Dan Troglin, Rick Houlk, Charles Murray, and John Pohl for tracking assistance. We also thank pilot Bev Paulan (Wisconsin DNR) for aerial tracking assistance.

Map of Whooping Crane locations as of March 31, 2015 or last


Whooping Crane Update – January 1 – 31, 2015

Whooping Crane Update, 1-31 January 2015

The attached map indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, are known to have moved from a previous location or that are long term missing. Updated band and transmitter information can be found in the attached document.

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 100 birds (53 males, 47 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 26-29 whooping cranes in Indiana, 7 in Kentucky, 10 in Tennessee, 34 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia, 13 in Florida, 2-5 at unknown locations and 2 long term missing. The total for Florida includes 7 newly released juveniles.

Mortalities

Female no. 8-13 was discovered with a severely injured upper right leg at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, on the morning of 5 January. She was captured and transported to the Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital where she was euthanized.
The remains of male no. 7-13 and female no. 2-13 were found on private property adjacent to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, on 15 January. Death of both birds had likely occurred on 5 January.

2012 Cohort

Nos. 4-12 remained at the pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

No. 5-12 remained near the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida.

No. 7-12 remained in Knox/Greene Counties, Indiana, throughout the report period.

No. 14-12 was found in Jackson County, Indiana, on 1 December and had left this location by 5 December. No subsequent reports.

No. 16-12 was last detected in Jackson County, Indiana, on 6 January. He was confirmed at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 8 January and was last detected at this location the following two days. No subsequent reports.

2013 Cohort

Nos. 2, 4, 7, and 8-13 remained on and near the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, until the deaths of nos. 2, 7 and 8-13 (see above). No. 4-13 has joined no. 4-12 and the juveniles at the pensite.

No. 9-13 remained on and near the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Alachua County, Florida, throughout the report period.

No. 22-13 remained at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, throughout the report period.

No. 24-13 remained in Knox/Greene Counties, Indiana, until moving south to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, on 7/8 January with nos. 18-09, 38-09, 6-09, 23-10 and 3-11. [Nos. 3-11, 6-09 and 23-10 returned to Greene County, Indiana, by 21 January].

No. 57-13 remained in Jackson County, Indiana, through at least 6 January. He was detected at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs County, Tennessee, on 8 January where he remained.

No. 59-13 remained at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Morgan County, Alabama, throughout the report period and was often seen associating with male no. 1-11.

2014 Cohort

Wild-hatched

No. W3-14 remained with her father in Greene County, Indiana, until moving south to Lawrence  County, Alabama, on 3-8 January with nos. 12-02, 29-09, 19-10 and 4-11.

Ultralight

The seven juveniles at the release pen at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge were returned to the top-netted pen on the morning of 5 January. They received their permanent colored leg bands and transmitters that day and were re-released on 8 January.

Parent-reared

No. 19-14 remained with pair nos. 7-07 and 39-07 at their wintering location in Lowndes County, Georgia, throughout the report period.

No. 20-14 remained with pair nos. 9-05 and 13-03 in Greene County, Indiana, until moving south with the adults to Jackson County, Alabama, on 6-8 January.

No. 27-14 remained with pair nos. 2-04 and 25-09 in Hopkins County, Kentucky, throughout the report period. Pairs nos. 24-09 and 42-09 as well as nos. 1-10 and W1-06 are also at this location.

Long term missing

Female no. 2-11 was last reported at her wintering location in Marion County, Florida, on 9 April 2013. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

Female no. 27-10 was last detected on the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on 22 April 2014. Her transmitter is likely nonfunctional.

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

We thank staff and volunteers from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Hillary Thompson, Andrew Cantrell, Sloane Wiggers, Dan Kaiser, Dan Troglin, Rick Houlk, Charles Murray, and John Pohl for tracking assistance.

Map of Whooping Crane locations as of January 31, 2015.


Top | Project Updates Home