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Whooping Crane Update

June 1, 2017 


Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month, wild chicks have started to hatch! 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 97 (44 F, 51 M, 2 U). This does not include 2017 wild-hatched chicks. As of 1 June, at least 84 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Wisconsin, 2 in Illinois, 1 in Iowa, 2 in North Dakota, and 1 in Kentucky. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during May. See maps below.



To date there have been 37 confirmed nests by 26 pairs in Juneau, Adams, Marathon, St. Croix, and Green Lake counties, Wisconsin. There are currently two active first nests and eight active re-nests. Six chicks have hatched from four first nests and one re-nest. Four chicks are still alive as of 1 June.


Active first nests: 20-14/37-07 Juneau Co, and possibly 2-15/28-05* Marathon Co (28-05 thought to be female may actually be male, the two were seen unison calling)


Active re-nests: 9-03/3-04, W1-06/1-10, 13-03/9-05, 12-03/29-09, W3-10/8-04, 24-08/14-08, 25-09/2-04, 17-07/10-09 all in Juneau Co


Incubated full term: 34-09/4-08 Juneau Co


Failed nests during May: 59-13/1-11 re-nest St. Croix Co, 3-14/4-12 Green Lake Co predated by coyote, 32-09/7-07 re-nest Juneau Co, 6-15/38-09 Juneau Co


2017 Wild-hatched chicks

Chicks in bold are currently alive


W1-17 hatched ~30 April to parents 5-11/12-11 in Juneau Co, WI


W2-17 hatched ~30 April to parents 5-11/12-11 in Juneau Co, WI. As of 8 May, only one chick confirmed with this family. Possible predation by raptor.


W3-17 hatched ~4 May to parents 42-09/24-09 in Adams Co, WI.


W4-17 hatched ~8 May to parents 5-10/28-08 in Marathon Co, WI. Last seen on 25 May and not seen on 30 May. Cause of death is unknown.


W5-17 hatched ~8 May to parents 7-11/3-11 in Adams Co, WI.


W6-17 hatched ~23 May from a re-nest of parents 36-09/18-03 in Juneau Co, WI.


Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) spent part of May in Chippewa County, WI but then moved to Ward County, North Dakota.


30_16 (M) spent all of May in Green Lake Co, WI. He was last seen associating with 5_12 (M).


31_16 (M) spent all of May in Stephenson Co, IL.


33_16 (F) spent most of May in Dane Co, WI, but as of 1 June was in Dubuque Co, IA.


71_16 (F) moved from Grant Co to Walworth Co, WI.


70_16 (M) spent most of May in Hardin County, TN but by the end of the month had moved to Knox County, KY.


69_16 (F) spent all of May with 65_15 (F). These two continued to move around and made a trip to Iowa before returning to Fond du Lac County, WI.



18-02 (F) was last seen 8 May with mate 13-02. As of 12 May she has not been seen and her mate has been seen alone. She is now presumed dead.


27-06 (M) was found dead on 18 May in Juneau Co. In the previous days he was exhibiting unusual behaviors, suggesting some kind of illness, but the proximate cause of death was predation. His remains were sent to the National Wildlife Health Center for further testing. 


Map of whooping crane locations.
Full extent of Whooping Crane locations as of 1 June 2017.



Zoomed in map of midwestern locations of Whooping Cranes as of 1 June 2017.
Zoomed in map of midwestern locations of Whooping Cranes as of 1 June 2017.





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