Sandhill Crane: Large, tall wading bird with long black legs; slate gray with a rusty wash on upperparts. Bulky body tapers to a slender long neck; white cheeks and bright red cap. Neck and head are fully feathered. Tail is short and covered by drooping feathers that form a bustle. Head is small; straight dark bill is longer than head; yellow eyes. Sexes are similar. Juvenile is mottled gray and brown; wing coverts, nape and back are a reddish brown along the edges; lacks a red cap; dark eyes. Has very broad wings.
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.
Breeding and Nesting
Sandhill Crane: Two buff or olive eggs spotted with olive or brown are laid in a ground nest lined with stems and twigs, and built near water. Incubation ranges between 28 and 32 days and is carried out by both parents during the day, but only by the female at night.
Foraging and Feeding
Sandhill Crane: These cranes are omnivorous, exploiting subsurface food items by probing with their bills; they also glean seeds and other foods on the surface. Their diet includes grains, berries, small mammals, insects, snails, reptiles and amphibians. They feed primarily on land or in shallow marshes with emergent vegetation.
Sandhill Crane: Makes a loud bugling call, which can be heard before the bird is seen; also utters a loud, rattling "kar-r-r-r-o-o-o."
Sandhill Crane: Whooping Crane is white with black primaries.