Sandhill Crane

Each type of crane has something unique in them. Sandhill crane is one of them. This elegant creature has a wide range of habitats. Do you know, from living in an open habitat which includes, freshwater wetlands to cultivated, they fit everywhere? They live in northern Canada and also in northern Mexico. While they also live in Cuba and far north-eastern Siberia. Also, this creature has the specialty of flying in a circle. This article will help you know about the life history of a sandhill crane. 


  • They have an elegance that draws attention, whether they are stepping alone or filling the sky in groups. These big, grey-bodied, crimson-capped birds breed across North America in open marshes, fields, and grasslands.
  • They are tall, huge birds with long necks, long legs, and wide wings. The short tail is covered by hanging feathers that form a “bustle”, and the bulky body curves into a narrow neck.
  • The bill is straight and longer than the head, and the head is tiny.

Life History

The breeds from Alaska to Hudson Bay; it used to breed in south-central Canada and the United States’ Great Lakes region, but these areas are now uncommon.

Scientific Name

The scientific name of this creature is Grus Canadensis. It belongs to the Gruida family and comes from the Animalia kingdom.


  • They are divided into six subspecies: larger, smaller, Florida, Cuban, Mississippi, and Canadian. The Canadian Sandhill, however, is disputed as a separate subspecies since it overlaps with lesser in some regions and greater in others.
  • In Washington, there are three subspecies of this creature: greater, smaller, and Canadian.

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Size, Height, and Weight

  • The size and weight of the several subspecies of Sandhill vary greatly.
  • The smallest cranes are the Lesser Sandhill cranes, which weigh around 6-7 pounds and reach 3-3.5 feet tall.
  • Greater Sandhill cranes are the biggest sub-species, standing 4.5-5 feet tall and weighing 10- 14 pounds on average.
  • They are mid-sized in Canada.


  • They usually build their nests in tiny, isolated wetlands and ditches, or within 300 yards of the boundaries of bigger wetlands. They like standing water with plants growing in them, but some do nest on dry ground.
  • It’s unclear if men or females select the nesting location. But, if one of a pair’s members dies, the remaining member may mate with a new partner in the same nesting location.


  • This bird may be found in a wide range of open habitats, including freshwater wetlands like bogs, sedge meadows as well as grasslands, pine savanna, and cultivated regions.
  • This creature has a wide range that stretches from northern Canada to northern Mexico. Cuba and far north-eastern Siberia also have populations.


  • They feed on land or in shallow wetlands where plants sprout from the water, trying to gather off the surface and digging with their bills.
  • Seeds and cultivated grains make up the majority of their food, but they may also eat berries, tubers, small vertebrates, and invertebrates.
  • Adult and larval insects, snails, reptiles, amphibians, nestling birds, small mammals, seeds, and berries are all eaten by non-migratory populations.


They have a large wingspan, typically 1.65 to 2.30 m, i.e., 5 feet 5 inches to 7 feet 7 inches which makes them very skilled birds.


  • This creature develops several loud, rattling bugle cries that last a few seconds and are mostly linked together.
  • The sound could be heard up to 2.5 miles distant and is delivered both on the ground and in flight. They also make sounds like moans, hisses, goose-like honks, and snoring.


  • They begin breeding between the ages of two and seven.
  • They are always monogamous, meaning they “mate for life.” If the partner dies, the survivor will find a new mate.
  • One reason is that to properly raise children, couples must practice being parents together. Families stay together for up to a year, showing extended bi-parental care for children.


  • The colts are the young Sandhill.
  • When you see the newborn crane, you might be astonished since it resembles a horse. However, there are some connections, if only in idea, between their long legs and their passion for running.

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  • They have a greater chance of dying early in the wild, yet they can survive for 20 years or more.


  • They may travel at speeds ranging from 15 to 50 mph, depending on wind direction.
  • They rise to altitudes of up to 12,000 feet by circling the sky on increasing columns of hot air known as thermals.
  • Cranes, unlike comparable but unrelated herons, fly with their necks extended rather than pulled back.


  • They feed on plains, grasslands, and marshes for grains and insects.
  • They don’t stop their necks as herons do when hunting on open water.
  • On their wintering habitats and during migration, Sandhill forms huge flocks that number in the tens of thousands. They frequently move at great altitudes.


  • Most of the states make it illegal to hunt this creature and those that do allow it has a very short season or very limited tags.
  • Lubbock, on the other hand, is a known crane wintering area, thus the birds are common and lawful to hunt, making it one of the few places in the United States where hunters can chase them.


  • They move at less than 5,000 feet above sea level.
  • They migrate at speeds ranging from 150 to over 400 miles per day, usually during daylight hours.
  • Sandhill cranes of the Cuban, Mississippi and Florida subspecies are non-migratory.

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Interesting Facts

Some interesting facts about this species are:-

  • The Sand Hills region of Nebraska is called for sandhill cranes. It can live for 20 years or more.
  • Their wingspan is around 6 feet.
  • Cranes eat a variety of foods which include plant tubers, grains, small animals, and invertebrates like insects and worms.

Sandhill Crane and the Platte River

  • Each March, almost 500,000 sandhills gather in Nebraska’s Platte River valley to rest and feed before continuing their trek to their northern breeding sites.
  • The birds sleep on the sandbars after eating maize from the farm areas.
  • Single sandhill can also locate mates by spending time on the Platte River.

Reference link

Do Sandhill cranes fly in a circle?

To reach high altitude, these creatures fly in a circle. They fly on rising columns of warm air called thermals to help them gain high altitudes.

Why does the sandhill crane have a hole in its

The sandhill crane’s beak has holes that allow them to breathe. The nares are the name for this hole.

How do you tell the difference between male and female sandhill cranes?

Sandhill crane males, which can weigh up to 14 pounds, are somewhat bigger than females. Females are still about 10 pounds. Also, males are usually a couple of inches taller than females.

Do Sandhill cranes make a good pet?

No, You can’t, it is illegal to own a sandhill crane as a pet.

 Why are Sandhill cranes endangered?

Due to habitat loss, wetland loss, and development the number of sandhill cranes is decreasing. The Mississippi sandhill crane and the Cuban sandhill crane are two subspecies of sandhill crane that are officially listed as endangered.

What is the sandhill crane migration route?

Sandhill cranes travel thousands of miles south to winter in Florida, Texas, Utah, Mexico, and California.

What month do sandhill cranes lay eggs?

Sandhill cranes that do not migrate, deposit their eggs between December and August. They lay their eggs in April and May in migratory groups.

Where do cranes sleep at night?

 Most of the crane species sleep on the ground standing at night. They prefer to stand in shallow water in general.

Are the sandhill cranes in Ontario?

Ontario is the most significant bird migratory staging place.

How many sandhill cranes are in Indiana?

Today, the sandhill crane population in Indiana is estimated to be approximately 90,000.

Where do cranes sleep at night?

 Most of the crane species sleep on the ground standing at night. They prefer to stand in shallow water in general.