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Sandhill Crane

Grus canadensis ORDER: GRUIFORMES FAMILY: GRUIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Whether stepping singly across a wet meadow or filling the sky by the hundreds and thousands, Sandhill Cranes have an elegance that draws attention. These tall, gray-bodied, crimson-capped birds breed in open wetlands, fields, and prairies across North America. They group together in great numbers, filling the air with distinctive rolling cries. Mates display to each other with exuberant dances that retain a gangly grace. Sandhill Crane populations are generally strong, but isolated populations in Mississippi and Cuba are endangered.

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Calls

Sandhill Cranes give loud, rattling bugle calls, each lasting a couple of seconds and often strung together. They can be heard up to 2.5 miles away and are given on the ground as well as in flight, when the flock may be very high and hard to see. They also give moans, hisses, gooselike honks, and snoring sounds. Chicks give trills and purrs.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Sandhill Cranes are large birds that live in open habitats, so they’re fairly easy to spot if you go to the right places. In summer look for them in small bogs, marshes, and prairies across northern North America and the southeastern United States. In winter they form immense flocks in places like Bosque del Apache, New Mexico, and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. Their bugling calls are unique and can be heard from miles away—they can help alert you to this species’ presence, particularly as they pass overhead on migration.