About the Whooping Crane
Eastern Flock
Western Flock | Eastern Flock

The Eastern migratory flock was begun in 2001 with captive-bred chicks carefully raised by costumed humans who used crane puppets. They raise the chicks by a strict set of rules so the little birds grow up acting like Whooping Cranes.

The Eastern flock is a reintroduced flock, not a natural flock. The Eastern flock is being brought back, or reintroduced with human help, to an area where all the Whooping Cranes died out.

Every Whooping Crane in the new Eastern flock is a descendent of the 15 surviving Whooping Cranes in the Western flock in the 1940s.

Size: As of July 2012, there just over 100 whoopers in the Eastern flock. This population graph on this page shows the progress of the new flock.

Wintering Grounds: Florida
Most of the Eastern flock spends winters at two Florida wildlife refuges: Chassahowitzka NWR ("Chass") and St. Marks NWR on the Florida Gulf Coast. As they get older, some cranes disperse into surrounding areas or nearby states.

Nesting Grounds: Wisconsin
Most of the Eastern flock spends the summer nesting season on or around Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin. The nearest town is Necedah, Wisconsin (44N, 90W). Several of the flock members have dispersed to other wetland areas in the region.

Migration: The birds migrate about 1,250 miles between Florida and Wisconsin. Each year, a small group of chicks is trained to follow an ultralight airplane on their first fall migration. These birds learn the route in fall and then migrate without human assistance for the rest of their lives—like all the ultralight graduates and any wild-born chicks in this flock.


Population graph, Eastern FlockPopulation


Whooping Crane Migration Map