Tagged: sandhill cranes

DID YOU KNOW: Sandhill Cranes are the most common and abundant of all the world’s cranes. A fossil from the Miocene Epoch, some ten million years ago, was found to be structurally the same as the modern sandhill crane.

Migratory subspecies of sandhill cranes breed in the Northern U.S., Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Each winter they undertake long southern journeys to wintering grounds in Florida, Texas, Utah, Mexico, and California. En route, more than three-fourths of all sandhill cranes use migratory staging areas in a single 75-mile (120-kilometer) stretch along Nebraska’s Platte River.  Pairs return to the same nesting territories year after year and sometimes use the same nest repeatedly. The young learn migratory routes from adults; without this modeling, they do not migrate.  Source: National Geographic and International Crane Foundation

Body plumage is characterized by varying shades of gray. In many areas, wild Sandhills preen  mud into their feathers creating a deep rusty brown hue which lasts during spring and summer.

Mated pairs of cranes, including Sandhill Cranes, engage in unison calling, which is a complex and extended series of coordinated calls. While calling, cranes stand in an upright posture, usually with their heads thrown back and beaks skyward during the display. In Sandhill Cranes the female initiates the display and utters two, higher-pitched calls for each male call. While calling, the female raises her beak about 45 degrees above the horizontal while the male raises his bill to a vertical position. All cranes engage in dancing, which includes various behaviors such as bowing, jumping, running, stick or grass tossing, as well as wing flapping. Though it is commonly associated with courtship, dancing can occur at any age and season. Source: National Geographic and International Crane Foundation