Sandhill Crane

photo by Andrew McKinlay CC BY

Sandhill Crane are a large gray bird (3-4 ft) with a long neck and legs and a wingspan of 5-6.5 ft. Adults have pale cheeks and a crimson cap, and the feathers may be stained rusty red, possibly from feeding and preening in muddy areas. They have a loud trumpeting call; their long windpipe gives it a lower pitch and harmonics.

Sandhill Crane breed and forage in the grasslands and wetlands of Alaska, central and western Canada, and the northern United States during the summer. They spend winters in the southern United States. There are small year-round populations in Florida and Mississippi.

Could it be? Sandhill Crane travel in flocks with their necks outstretched and can often be heard before they are seen. Great Blue Heron fly solo and tuck their neck over their back. Whooping Crane are larger and white.

Did you know? Sandhill Crane can live for up to 36 years. They mate for life, often waiting until they are 7 to start breeding. Juveniles stay close to their parents for 9-10 months.

See Also: Whooping Crane