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Whooping Crane Update

November 10, 2012 to January 4, 2013


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, have left a previous location and have not been relocated, or that are long term missing.


Map of January 4, 2013 Whooping Crane locations.



Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 114 birds (58 males and 56 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period or last record included 40 whooping cranes in Indiana, 17 in Florida, 16 in Alabama, 11 in Tennessee, 10 in Illinois, 3 in Kentucky, 3 in Georgia, 8 at unknown locations, 2 not recently reported, and 4 long term missing.  This total does not include the suspected, but not yet confirmed, mortality listed below.



Male no. 3-07 disappeared on his wintering territory in Lowndes County, Georgia, after 17 December when he was last observed alive. On 30 December, his mate (no. 38-08) was seen without him and has been regularly observed alone or with the a second pair that is also wintering in the area. No. 3-07’s remains have not yet been located but mortality is suspected.


2011 Cohort

Estimated distribution at the end of the report period is as follows:


Twelve in Alabama, 1 in Tennessee, 1 in Illinois, 1 in Indiana, 1 at an unknown location and 1 long-term missing.


2012 Cohort

Whooping crane with sandhill cranes.

A DAR whooping crane with sandhills during the 2012 fall migration.


Photo by ICF: Eva Szyszkoski

Direct Autumn Release (DAR)

No. 14-12 began migration with sandhill cranes from the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin on 23 November. He was reported “loosely associating” with DAR female no. 28-05 at the Jasper-Pulaski FWA in Jasper County, Indiana, on 25 November. He was next reported with sandhill cranes in Volusia County, Florida, on 9 December where he remains.


Nos. 12, 16 and 17-12 remained in Hendry County, Florida, throughout the report period but are no longer together. On 28 December, no. 12-12 was reported as having a possible leg injury. Efforts to get an observer in the field with tracking equipment to check on his status are ongoing.


Nos. 13 and 15-12 moved from their Hendry County location to Broward County, Florida, on 22 December where they remain.


Ultralight (UL)

The five juveniles in the ultralight-led cohort arrived at their pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County, Florida, on 23 November. Permanent colored leg bands and transmitters were attached on 7 December and the five were released from the top netted pen on 11 December.


Long Term Missing

Female no. 27-07 was last reported with sandhills on her usual summering area E of Etna Green, Kosciusko County, Indiana, on the evening of 13 March 2011. Her transmitter is suspected to be nonfunctional.


Female no. 13-08 was last detected in flight near Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on 6 April 2011.


Male no. 13-11 (DAR) was last detected migrating south over NE Illinois on 29 November 2011.


Female no. 3-10 was last detected on her wintering grounds in Marion County, Florida, on 22 February 2012.


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 Travis Stoelting (Indiana DNR), Joe Burnam ( Georgia DNR), Dan Kaiser, John Pohl, Susan Braun, Charles Murray and Rick Houlk for tracking assistance and pilot Bev Paulan (Wisconsin DNR) for aerial support.