Where Are They Now?
Status of the 11 Parent-Reared Chicks

There's a big difference in distances the 11 chicks have traveled. The farthest has flown 1,300 miles whereas another is still in Wisconsin in January!

Whooping Crane #38-17 is still in Wisconsin! She's pictured here on December 17th with two Sandhill Crane friends. Photo by Doug Pellerin


January 8, 2017
by Heather Ray, Operation Migration

A total of eleven Parent-Reared Whooping Cranes were released in marshy areas in Wisconsin in September and October of 2017. The release locations were selected because adult Whooping Cranes were already using those areas. It was hoped the young cranes would make pals with the older cranes and follow them south to suitable wintering areas. Here's where things stand now.

Of the eleven cranes released, nine are alive and two have died, unfortunately:

Number 37-17 struck a power line on the first day of her southward journey and died.  

Number 26-17 was released in Marquette County, Wisconsin near adults 27-14 and 10-11 and monitored for several weeks. She stayed very close to her release site, which was so isolated that she could only occasionally be seen. Although close to the target pair, it could never be confirmed that they spent time together. On November 6, 2017 number 26-17 left Wisconsin, we believe with two adult males, numbers 4-14 and 11-15. She migrated to Wabash County, Illinois. On December 16, her remains were collected near the Wabash River. 

This table shows the release locations as well as the current locations of the remaining nine Parent-Reared cranes. As you can see there is a great difference in the distances these young cranes have traveled. And in the case of number 38-17, she is still IN WISCONSIN – EEEK!

The Story of Reluctant Crane 38-17

Whooping Crane #38-17 is one of the young Whooping Cranes I was monitoring once she was released in Dodge County, WI. Only once did I see her with another Whooping crane. Here she is with adult number 71-16 in early November.

November 2, 2017 photo by Heather Ray


So why hasn’t this crane gone south? The temperatures plummeted in late December and the beginning of 2018 yet she remained at her release location. Why?

Take a close look at the photo below taken by Doug Pellerin on December 17th. On the right is our young Whooping Crane #38-17. She is with two Sandhill cranes but take a very close look at the sandhill crane in the center. It appears it has a droopy wing and therefore cannot fly so we can only surmise number 38-17 is sticking by her Sandhill friend instead of migrating south.

December 17, 2017 photo by Doug Pellerin

Over the past few weeks Hillary Thompson and Anne Lacy from the International Crane Foundation have been trying to capture this young Whooping crane. Unfortunately, she has evaded capture thus far but her Sandhill companion was successfully captured just after Christmas and was taken to a rehabber to have the wing repaired.

Hillary reports number 38-17 is eating the corn that was placed at a bait station to lure her in and is also likely eating snow for water. They will keep trying to capture her and when successful, she will be driven to a suitable winter location – IF she doesn’t leave on her own.


Over and out…

Heather Ray
Operation Migration

Locations as of January 8, 2018

Operation Migration and Google Earth