Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis

Type of Animal:

Prairie, sandhills, fields, marshes, tundra, grassland, bogs, river valleys, wetlands, plains, pastures, irrigated croplands, wet meadows, burned-over aspen stands, river basins, rivers, savanna, open fens, sedge meadows, cultivated areas, swamps, golf courses, suburban/urban subdivisions, airports

North America, E Asia, & W Cuba. Rare vagrants in British Isles.

Large tall long-necked, long-legged gray bird w/ small head/red forehead patch/long pointy bill

Seeds, grains, corn, crops, insects, insect larvae, grubs, worms, small mammals, birds, eggs, amphibians, fish, leeches, berries, tubers, succulent vegetation, aquatic plants, birdfeeder spill, reptiles, snails, fruit, nuts, roots, legumes, crayfish, mushrooms

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife centers. Extra monitoring of populations in SE US & Cuba. Protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge established in 1975 has biggest release program on earth w/ 90% of cranes there raised in captivity. Audubon Institute’s Species Survival Center in Louisiana & White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida breeding/releasing critically endangered Mississippi subspecies.

Flocks range from 2-20,000 birds. Monogamous pairs territorial during breeding season. 

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick/Colt
Group: Flock

Male: 8-12 lbs
Female: 7-9.5 lbs
Young: 1-1.5 lbs

1 month

Life Span:
20-25 years in wild, 30-40 years in captivity

Male: 4-5 ft
Female: 3-4 ft
Young: 0.9 ft

Body Length:
3.5-4 ft, same for both sexes

Tail Length:
3.9-10.4 in, same for both sexes

Main predators of adults are eagles, canids, bears, felids, crocodilians, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, & large owls. Raccoons, raptors, corvids, gulls, & skunks prey on chicks & juveniles.

These large birds have a 6-7 ft wingspan.

Like other cranes, monogamous pairs known for courtship dances.

Migratory crane populations nest in April & May. Nonmigratory populations nest from December to early March.

Chicks stay w/ parents for 10-12 months, reaching sexual maturity a little after 12 months. 

While stable overall, Mississippi & Cuban subspecies critically endangered due to habitat loss, wetland loss, development, persecution as crop pests, & pollution.

These cranes often preen themselves by rubbing mud on feathers.

Like other cranes, these birds can be quite loud.

Fun Fact(s):
These birds can fly at speeds of up to 35 mph.

Largest congregations of these birds occur from February to early April along/in Nebraska’s Platte River Valley. In fact, Nebraska town Kearney known as Sandhill Crane capital of the world & located in this region. More than half a million cranes make stopover in this area.

Breeding pairs can be aggressive during breeding/nesting season, using bill/feet in attacks.

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