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Whooping Crane Update

September 1, 2016  


Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. A huge thank-you to the staff of Operation Migration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, 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 100 (48 F, 50 M, 2 U). This total does not include wild-hatched chicks from 2016. As of 1 August, at least 90 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in WI, 1 is currently in Michigan, and 4 are in Illinois. The remaining 5 birds have not been confirmed in WI yet this spring. See map below.


2015 Wild Chicks

Both wild-hatched chicks have been seen regularly in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge during August. W10_15 has been associating with adult male 24_13. W18_15 has still been associating with adult male 16-04.


Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) has still been in Jefferson Co, WI throughout August.

20_15 (M) is currently in Walworth Co, WI.


DAR 2015 Cohort

61_15 (F), 62_15 (M), 63_15 (M), and 67_15 (F) continue to be at their wintering grounds in Randolph Co. IL.


65_15 (F) has still been with 27_14 (F) in Marathon Co, WI.


66_15 (F) is currently in Racine Co, WI.


68_15 (F) has remained in Dunn Co, WI throughout August.


64_15 (F) was last seen leaving Horicon in fall of 2015 with a large group of Sandhill cranes and has not been reported at a winter location nor in WI this spring.


UL 2015 Cohort

1_15 (F) has remained in Rock Co, WI throughout August.


6_15 (F) is still in Winnebago Co, WI.


8_15 (F) is still in Calumet Co, WI.


10_15 (F), and 11_15 (M) have been moving around a bit, but are currently in Dane Co.  


2_15 (F) spent all of July in Walworth Co.



There have been a total of 46 nests by 29 different pairs. Seven nests had eggs removed as part of the re-nesting experiment, 2 nests were incubated past full term, 23 chicks have hatched from 16 nests, and the remaining nests failed. There is one chick alive at the time of this update.


W3_16 was last seen 17 July on territory in Wood Co with its mother. Adult 4-11 was seen in Juneau Co without W3-16, who is now assumed dead.


W7_16 is the only remaining wild-hatched chick and is with parents 29_09 and 12_03 in Juneau Co. On 1 September, W7-16 was captured and banded.


W9_16 was found dead in Juneau Co on 23 August.



There are no new injuries to report.



Male 11_02 was last seen on 1 July, 2016 on territory with mate (15-09) and chick (W12-16) in Juneau Co, WI. The carcass of 11_02 was recovered in August.




Project Updates