Sandhill Cranes are the world’s most common crane and one of the few not currently endangered. They live mostly in the far north (Canada and Alaska) during the summer, but can be seen throughout most of the western United States during migration season, when they gather in flocks of up to 10,000 individuals. Found in freshwater wetlands, Sandhill cranes are opportunistic eaters that enjoy plants, grains, mice, snakes, insects, or worms. Sandhill cranes have an interesting, distinctive call. The make a rattling “karrrr- oooooo-oooo” sound that varies in length, loudness, and strength depending on what they are communicating. During mating season, they call in unison, singing and calling loudly to each other to create a bond. They will also do a mating dance which is an incredible sight to see. Wing flapping, jumping, tossing about, and even throwing sticks and vegetation into the air creates quite a display during mating season and sometimes just year-round for fun.
Description: Slate gray; often with a rusty wash on upperparts; pale cheeks; red skin on crown; legs are black.
- On wintering grounds and during migration, flocks can number in the tens of thousands
- Make a loud, rolling trumpet
- Courting cranes do a dance wherein they stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap
- Mate for life, and stay with mate year-round
- Use kicking as a defense mechanism, in addition to spreading their wings and hissing