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We have a TON of these here where i live and so i decided that i wanted to know more about them so you know what that means.... you get to learn too!

Sandhills are the most common 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. Today, these large birds are found predominately in North America. They range south to Mexico and Cuba, and as far west as Siberia.

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.

Most sandhill cranes live in freshwater wetlands. They are opportunistic eaters that enjoy plants, grains, mice, snakes, insects, or worms. They often dig in the soil for tubers and can sometimes cause significant crop damage, which brings them into conflict with farmers.

The birds are naturally gray and their heads are topped with a crimson crown. Some cranes preen themselves by adding mud to their feathers and thus taking on a temporary brown hue. This may happen because the birds use their bills to probe for food in muddy wetland soil.

During mating, pairs vocalize in a behavior known as "unison calling." They throw their heads back and unleash a passionate duet—an extended litany of coordinated song. Cranes also dance, run, leap high in the air and otherwise cavort around—not only during mating but all year long.

Sandhill cranes usually nest in wetlands and create a structure from whatever plants may be at hand. Females typically lay two eggs, which both parents incubate. Males take responsibility for defending the nest.

Also i was watching Unexplained mysteries the other day and one of the theories of the Moth man is that it was people seeing a sandhill crane... now i dont believe that because if you have ever seen a sand hill crane sure they can be tall but wouldnt be mistaken as a huge guy/moth, but i thought id throw it out there because it is a neat thing.

Proper Name Greater Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis).

Average Size Height: 4 to 5 feet. Wing Span: 6 to 7 feet. Weight: Male, 12 pounds; Female 9 1/2 pounds. The Greater Sandhill Crane is Michigan's tallest bird.

Color Young: brownish and lacking red forehead. Adult: after summer molt, grey feather and red forehead always present.

    Note: preening with plants and mud from iron rich waters causes a reddish brown staining of feathers seen most of year.

Similar Looking Bird Great Blue Heron: herons fly with heads tucked back on their shoulders in an “S” Cranes fly with necks extended and have rapid upward wing beats. Cranes always stand on the ground, never in trees.

Voice SPACETrumpeting “garoo-a-a-a” can be heard a mile or more away depending on wind. HEAR CALLS

Food SPACEWide variety of plants and animals: snails, crayfish, worms, mice. birds. frogs, snakes, insects, acorns, roots, seeds, fruits, occasionally fish, and very fond of waste grains following the harvesting of corn, wheat, barley. etc.

Noteworthy Behavior Dancing: consists of bowing and jumping, into the air. Functions in courtship, sexual synchronization for mating, and release of aggressive energies.

Population Trends 1931 survey of S. Michigan: 17 nesting pairs. 1986-87 survey: 630 nesting pairs in the Lower Peninsula, 175 pairs in the Upper Peninsula, over 200 pairs in Jackson County, and over 8,000 individuals state wide.

Wintering Grounds Southern Georgia and northern Florida

Spring Return Early March, sometimes late February

Age at First Nesting Three years

Nesting Site Sandhills nest typically in edges and surrounding uplands of shallow marshes, often in cattails.

Nesting Territory Usually 20 to 200 acres

Nest Nests are 2-3 feet in diameter, 3-5 inches above water level. They are made of vegetation, cattails are common, pulled from nearby the nest site.

Eggs Normally 2 eggs are laid, about 4" x 2 1/2" in size. (About twice the size of a jumbo chicken egg.)

Start of Incubation Incubation begins in early April. Both sexes share incubation.

Incubation Period Approximately 30 days

Hatching Time Typically in early May

Name of Young The chicks are known as colts in recognition of their well developed legs. They can leave the nest and run within a day of hatching.

First Flight About 10 weeks after hatching

Best Season and Time to View Cranes September to early November, late October is best. Cranes gather each evening in shallow, secluded marshes during migration called staging areas. In the early morning cranes leave their staging areas to feed in nearby fields. In the mid-afternoon (3-5 p.m.) the cranes start returning to spend the night in the safety of the marsh. Mornings and early afternoons spent driving roads within five miles of the sanctuaries can sometimes be rewarded with finding large flocks of cranes feeding in farm fields.
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Submitted on
May 30, 2010