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Whooping Crane Update

December 1, 2016 


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 105 (48 F, 55 M, 2 U). As of 1 December, at least 21 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in WI, 1 in Iowa, 30 - 31 in Indiana, 6 - 8 in Illinois, 4 in Kentucky, 1 – 3 in Tennessee, 10 - 11 in Alabama, 2 in Florida, and 1 in Louisiana. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during November. See map below.


2015 Wild Chicks
W10_15 was reported in Richland County Illinois on 1 November, with 24_13, 14_08, and 24_08. By the end of November, W10-15 was in Greene County, Indiana with a large group of Whooping Cranes.


W18_15 was last seen with male 16-04 in Juneau County WI on 15 November. By late November, W18-15 wasn’t seen in WI and has likely started migration.


Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) left Jefferson County, WI on 19 November. She was first seen at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan County AL on 25 November. There are other Whooping Cranes at Wheeler NWR, but she has not yet been directly associating with them.


20_15 (M) left Walworth Co, WI on 19 November. He flew south to southern Alabama, and was at his previous wintering area in St. Martin Parish Louisiana by 24 November. He then moved a bit north to Avoyelles Parish, LA by 28 November.


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) and 27_14 (F) spent the beginning of November in Marathon County, WI, sometimes associating with 70_16 after his release. They then left Wisconsin and were reported in Jasper County IN in late November.


66_15 (F) was in Walworth County in early November. She was loosely associating with 2_15 and 20_15. She has not been reported in WI in late November and has likely started migration.


68_15 (F) was in Dunn County, WI in early November and was reported in Meigs County, TN by the end of the month.


UL 2015 Cohort

2_15 (F) spent all of November in Walworth County. Before their migration, she was loosely associating with 20_15 and 66_15.


6_15 (F) was in Juneau County, WI until 20 November when she and 38_09 were reported in Greene County, IN. She went further south to Wabash County, IL and Knox County, IN, before returning to Greene County, IN.


8_15 (F) spent all of November in Winnebago Co, WI.


10_15 (F), and (presumably) 11_15 (M) spent most of November in LaSalle Co, IL. By the end of the month they had moved to Lawrence County, Alabama.


Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort
29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) are still in Adams County, WI. Target adults 24_09 and 42_09 have migrated and are likely in Hopkins County, KY (see below).


30_16 (M) is still at White River Marsh in Green Lake Co WI, and is associating with adults 4_12 and 3_14.


31_16 (M) and 38_16 (M) remain near release site in Marquette County, WI.


33_16 (F) is still in Jackson County, Iowa at the end of November.


71_16 (F) spent all of November in Marquette County, WI and is associating with Sandhill Cranes.


69_16 (F) left Dane County, WI with Sandhill Cranes in October and was seen in Jasper County, IN. She arrived at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan County, AL on 10 November and is now closely associating with the pair 1_11 and 59_13.


70_16 (M) was released on 16 November in Marathon County, WI near 65_15 and 27_14. The three associated on some occasions, but the two sub-adults migrated without 70_16 (see above). 70_16 is still in Marathon County at the end of November and is often associating with Sandhill Cranes.


Wisconsin: As of 29 November, the following birds have been confirmed in WI and have not yet begun migration: 32_09, 7_07, 1_04, 10_10, 41_09, 20_14, 37_07, 19_11, 17_11, 8_15, 18_11, 29_16, 30_16, 4_12, 3_14, 31_16, 38_16, 39_16, 2_15, 70_16, 71_16. There may be other Whooping Cranes in WI for which we have not received reports.


Indiana: 69-16 moved through Jasper County, IN and continued on to Alabama (see above). 28_05, 65_15, and 27_14 have also been confirmed in Jasper County during November (see above). The following cranes have been confirmed in Greene County, IN: 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), 10_09, 17_07, 29_08, 4_11, 19_10, 6_15 (see above), and 38_09. 19_14, possibly 12_05, 19_09, 25_10, 16_02, and 16_07 were reported in Gibson County, IN. 10_11 was reported in Knox County, IN. 27_06 and 26_09 were reported in Sullivan County, IN.


Illinois: The four 2015 DAR birds (61-15, 62-15, 63-15, 67-15) have spent the summer at their wintering grounds in Randolph County, IL, and continue to be there throughout November (see above). In early November, W10_15, 24_13, 24_08, and 14_08 were in Wayne County IL, but W10_15 and 24_13 have moved to Indiana and 14_08 and 24_08 haven’t been seen again and have likely migrated further south. 9_03 and 3_04 have been confirmed in Richland County, IL.


Iowa: Juvenile 33-16 is still in Jackson County, Iowa (see above).


Kentucky: 2_04 and 25_09 were first confirmed in Hopkins County, KY on 6 November. By late November, another pair joined them. Although we have not yet confirmed IDs, we suspect the pair is 24_09 and 42_09, based on previous winter use of this location and confirmation of other likely pairs further north.


Tennessee: 68_15 has been confirmed in Meigs County, TN (see above). Two other Whooping Cranes were seen in Meigs County earlier in the month, but their IDs could not be confirmed.


Alabama: During November, the following Whooping Cranes were confirmed at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge: 69_16 (see above), 14_15 (see above), 1_11, 59_13, 15_11, 38_08, 5_12, 13_02, and 18_02. 10-15 and (likely) 11-15 are in Lawrence County (see above).


Florida: 8_14 and 4_13 were confirmed in Wakulla County, Florida by St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge staff on 25 November.


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



None known during November.


Map of whooping crane locations as of 1 December 2016.