Canadian Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)

Sandhill Crane, downloaded 10/15/09
Habitat and Location

The Sandhill Crane can be found in marshes and wetlands in northern North America (i.e. Canada and the northern border of the U.S.A.). It prefers to live in open areas where it can see clearly all around its nest. For housing, the crane builds nests out of packed dirt and vegetation in shallow waters.


  • Physical Description

  • The Sandhill Crane is, on average, 37 inches long with a wingspan of 80 inches. It is a large, long-legged, long-necked bird with a long pointed bill. It can be confused with the Whooping Crane, but, unlike the Whooping Crane, the Sandhill is gray with a red crest. Occasionally, its plumage takes on a brownish tint from the wear of ever day life. Another easy trait of the Sandhill Crane's to identify is its carriage while flying. Most cranes hold their necks in an S-shape while flying, but the Sandhill holds it in a straight line.


Sandhill Cranes are omnivores. They eat all sorts of minuscule marsh life, namely plant matter, insects, aquatic invertebrates, reptiles/amphibians, small mammals, and fish

Climate requirements

The cranes generally live in subarctic Canada between 500 and 600 N, from northern Ontario through northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to west-central British Columbia. They spend several summer months in the north while they mate and reproduce. When the weather changes, the cranes will migrate south to Texas or Central America.

Regions of Migration, downloaded 10/15/09

Since Sandhill Cranes are omnivorous, they are both primary consumers and secondary consumers. They have a predator-prey relationship with small aquatic marsh life. The cranes are the prey of arctic mammalian predators, such as the arctic fox, owl, or wolf.


The Sandhill Cranes perform an intricate mating ritual in which they smear their bodies with mud and ruffle up their hind plumage. Then they share long mating calls, designed to attract the mate of their choice. The female will lay about two eggs annually, but usually only one hatches. The cranes raise their offspring in subarctic territory for several months.
  • Animal activity
    • day

Living Habitats

Sandhill Cranes are group animals; they migrate in flocks. They are active during the day.

Interesting Facts

Sandhill Cranes are the oldest species of bird on Earth. Paleontologists have found fossils of Sandhill Cranes dating back millennia. The body structure of the fossils is identical to that of the Sandhill crane.

Population Expansion

The Sandhill Crane is classified as low urgency endangered. The Canadian population is mostly considered stable. The Whooping Crane, on the other hand, is on the verge of extinction; in all of the world, there are only 468 cranes left. In recent years the Whooping Crane population has increased, but that is only because extreme conservation efforts are being made. Lleft on its own, the Whooping Crane would be replaced by the Sandhill Crane in the matter of a decade.


  1. The Cranes. (n.d.). Science for a Changing World. Retrieved from Northern
    Prairie Wildlife Research Center database.
  2. Hoehne, P. (2004, July 21). Bringing Whooping Cranes Back From Near Extinction.
    In suite101 [Article]. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from suite101 website:
  3. Sandhill crane Grus canadensis. (n.d.). USGS [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from USGS
  4. Senturia, B. (n.d.). Sandhill Crane. In Bird Web. Retrieved from Seattle Audubon
    Society website: