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Sandhill Cranes

August 31, 2015

Laura and I visited the Sandhill Cranes south of Shubenacadie August 24. We found four Sandhill Cranes within a ten minute search. They reside in a large one kilometre long field west of Highway 224 and apparently move about from end to end and side to side. They have been here for about a month. The field is composed of yellow and red clovers, hawkweeds and grasses. They feed on grains, insects and small mammals.

Location of Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane FieldSandhill Crane Field

Sandhill Cranes have been ravaged by man so they are wary by nature but tough and fearless nonetheless. They kill hunting dogs and once chased John James Audubon into water up to his neck to avoid attack. You are warned!

I used a long telephoto lens and still cropped the images to obtain this batch of photos. This challenge might be better realized by digiscoping.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane

Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane

Here's more information on the Sandhill Crane:

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Sandhill crane

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sandhill crane
Sandhill Crane with Chick.jpg
Adult and chick
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Gruidae
Genus: Grus
Species: G. canadensis
Binomial name
Grus canadensis
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Grus canadensis canadensis
    (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Grus canadensis pratensis
    (F. A. A. Meyer, 1794)
  • Grus canadensis nesiotes
    Bangs & Zappey, 1905
  • Grus canadensis tabida
    (J. L. Peters, 1925)
  • Grus canadensis rowani(disputed)
    Walkinshaw, 1965
  • Grus canadensis pulla
    Aldrich, 1972

and see text


Ardea canadensis Linnaeus, 1758
Grus minor
Grus proavus
and see text

The sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird refers to habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska'sSandhills on the American Plains. This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the lesser sandhill crane (Grus canadensis canadensis), with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.


Florida sandhill crane, Grus canadensis pratensis; adult (behind) and juvenile

Adults are gray overall; during breeding, their plumage is usually much worn and stained, particularly in the migratory populations, and looks nearly ochre. The average weight of the larger males is 4.57 kg (10.1 lb), while the average weight of females is 4.02 kg (8.9 lb), with a range of 2.7 to 6.7 kg (6.0 to 14.8 lb) across the subspecies.[2][3] Sandhill cranes have red foreheads, white cheeks and long dark pointed bills. In flight, their long dark legs trail behind, and their long necks keep straight. Immature birds have reddish brown upperparts and gray underparts.[4][5] The sexes look alike. Sizes vary among the different subspecies; the average height of these birds is around 80 to 122 cm (2 ft 7 in to 4 ft 0 in).[6][7] Their wing chords are typically 41.8–60 cm (16.5–23.6 in), tails are 10–26.4 cm (3.9–10.4 in), the exposed culmens are 6.9–16 cm (2.7–6.3 in) long and the tarsi measure 15.5–26.6 cm (6.1–10.5 in).[8]

These cranes frequently give a loud trumpeting call that suggests a French-style "r" rolled in the throat, and they can be heard from a long distance. Mated pairs of cranes engage in "unison calling." The cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The female makes two calls for every one from the male.

Sandhill cranes' large wingspans, typically 1.65 to 2.29 m (5 ft 5 in to 7 ft 6 in), make them very skilled soaring birds, similar in style to hawks and eagles.[7] Using thermals to obtain lift, they can stay aloft for many hours, requiring only occasional flapping of their wings and consequently expending little energy. Migratory flocks contain hundreds of birds, and can create clear outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of air (thermals) they ride.