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Whooping Crane Update

January 1, 2017 


Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month most Whooping Cranes have begun migration or reached their wintering areas. 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 maximum population size is 104 (48 F, 54 M, 2 U). As of 1 January, at least 35 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Indiana, 3 in Illinois, 6 in Kentucky, 7 in Tennessee, 28 in Alabama, 5 in Florida, 4 in Georgia, and 1 in Louisiana. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during December. See map below.



2015 Wild Chicks
W10_15 and 24_13 spent December in Greene County, Indiana with a large group of Whooping Cranes.


W18_15 and male 16-04 were reported in Knox Co, Indiana during December.


Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) spent all of December at Wheeler NWR in Alabama.


20_15 (M) spent the beginning of December in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, then moved back to Saint Martin Parish, where he wintered last year.


DAR 2015 Cohort

62_15 (M) was found dead on 18 December in Randolph Co, IL (see below). Around the same time, 61_15 (F) and 67_15 (F) went south into southwestern Missouri and western Tennessee, before returning to Randolph Co, Illinois by 23 December. During this time, 63_15 (M) stayed by himself in Randolph Co. By the end of the month, the three remaining cranes from this group were together again on their wintering grounds.


65_15 (F) and 27_14 (F) spent most of December at Wheeler NWR, Alabama.


66_15 (F) and 68_15 (F) have been reported in Rhea or Meigs Co, Tennessee throughout December but are not together.


UL 2015 Cohort

2_15 (F) left on migration between 6 and 11 December and went to Wakulla Co, Florida. She then moved back north to Thomas Co, Georgia by the end of the month.


6_15 (F) spent early December in Greene County, Indiana associating with 38-09. The two then moved to Wheeler NWR in Morgan Co, Alabama by the end of December.


8_15 (F) left on migration on 8 December and by the end of the month was in Sumter Co, Alabama.


10_15 (F), and 11_15 (M) spent most of December at Wheeler NWR, Alabama.


Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort
29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) left Wisconsin on 8 December likely migrating with Sandhill Cranes. By 11 December they made it to Dyer Co, TN, where they spent the rest of the month.


30_16 (M) left on migration with 4_12 and 3_14 on 8 December and made it to Floyd Co, GA by 11 December.


31_16 (M) and 38_16 (M) left on migration on 8 December and spent the rest of the month in Crittenden Co, KY.


33_16 (F) migrated to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN, and by the end of December was in Citrus Co, FL.


71_16 (F) left on migration with Sandhill Cranes on 8 December. She is currently in Jackson Co, IN.


70_16 (M) was released in Marathon Co during November. He moved to Portage Co, WI, where on 12 December he was captured for translocation to Alabama. He was released at Wheeler NWR on 14 December and has been associating with 69-16 as well as adult Whooping Cranes present on the refuge.


69_16 (F) spent all of December associating with 1_11 and 59_13 at Wheeler NWR in Alabama. She also began associating with 70_16 after his translocation to Wheeler.



Indiana: The following cranes have been confirmed in Greene County in December: 3_11, 7_11, 18_03, 36_09, 34_09, 4_08, 1_10, W1_06, 12_03, 29_09, 24_13, W10_15 (see above), 8_04, W3_10, 10_09, 17_07, 13_03, 9_05, 29_08, 4_11, and 19_10.  12_09, 10_11, 19_09, 25_10, 16_02, and 16_07 were reported in Gibson County, IN. W18_15 (see above), 16_04, 19_14, and 12_05 were reported in Knox County, IN. 10_10, 41_09, and 71_16 were in Jackson County, IN. 28_05 was reported in the beginning of the month in Jasper Co.


Illinois: Three 2015 DAR birds (61-15, 63-15, 67-15) are in Randolph County, IL (see above).


Kentucky: 2_04 and 25_09, 24_09 and 42_09, are in Hopkins Co. 31-16 and 38-16 are in Crittenden Co.


Tennessee: 68_15 and 66_15 have been confirmed in Rhea or Meigs Counties (see above). 5_10, 28_08, and 14_12 were also confirmed in Rhea/Meigs Counties during December. 29_16 and 39_16 are in Dyer Co (see above).


Alabama: During December, the following Whooping Cranes were confirmed at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge: 69_16 (see above), 14_15 (see above), 10_15 (see above), 11_15 (see above), 70_16 (see above), 1_11, 59_13, 18_11, 15_11, 38_08, 5_11, 12_11, 14_08, 24_08, 1_04, 27_06, 26_09, 27_14, 65_15 (see above), 6_15 (see above), 38_09, 9_03, 3_04, 13_02, and 18_02. In the end of December, 8_15 was in Sumter Co, AL (see above). 20-14 and 37-07 have been confirmed at their wintering area in Jackson Co, AL.


Florida: 8_14 and 4_13, 5-12, 4-14 at St. Marks. 33-16 is in Citrus Co (see above).


Georgia: 4_12, 3_14, and 30_16 are in Floyd Co, GA (see above). 2_15 is in Thomas Co, GA (see above).


Louisiana: 20_15 has returned to Louisiana and is in Saint Martin Parish (see above).



62_15 (M) was found dead on 18 December likely due to powerline collision in Randolph County, IL.  


Map of whooping crane locations in eastern United States.