Sandhill Crane: Large wading bird with gray body, white cheeks, chin, upper throat, and bright red cap. Bill is dark and eyes are yellow. Legs and feet are black. Direct, steady flight on heavy and labored wing beats. Slow downstroke, rapid and jerky upstroke. Flies in V or straight line formation.
Range and Habitat
Sandhill Crane: Breeds from Siberia and Alaska east across Canada to Hudson Bay and to western Ontario, with isolated populations in the Rocky Mountains, northern prairies, Great Lakes, and in Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida. Winters in California, and from Arizona to Florida. Prefers marshes, prairie ponds, and marshy tundra; also found on prairies and grain fields during migration.
The Sandhill Crane has a large range, estimated globally at 100,000 to 1,000,000 square kilometers. Native to China, Japan, Korea, Cuba, and North America, this bird prefers inland wetland or temperate grassland ecosystems. The global population of this bird is estimated at 520,000 to 530,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Sandhill Crane is Least Concern.
Sandhill Cranes are noted for their elaborate courtship displays. Two displays are used to form mating pairs while three other displays occur only between mates and serve to maintain the pair bond.
A crane fossil approximately ten million years old was found in Nebraska and is structurally identical to the modern Sandhill Crane, making it the oldest known bird species still surviving.
They frequently preen with vegetation and mud stained with iron oxide resulting in a reddish brown color rather than their natural gray.
A group of cranes has many collective nouns, including a "construction", "dance", "sedge", "siege", and "swoop" of cranes.