Top Ten Facts About Cranes and People

Sandhill Cranes forage in harvested corn fields near the Platte River in Nebraska.

“We believe that a future with cranes means a future with a healthier and more livable planet for all.” –
Rich Beilfuss, President and CEO of the International Crane Foundation

We also believe people and cranes – and other wildlife – can coexist peacefully on urban, suburban and rural landscapes. As with many neighbors, coexisting peacefully might require some patience and creativity. To that end, we asked our staff for their top ten facts about cranes and people. Please let us know if you have others that you would add!

1. Don’t actively feed cranes. It can be dangerous for both cranes and people for the birds to associate humans with food. In addition, it is illegal to intentionally feed Sandhill Cranes in Florida. The cranes often will glean from birdfeeder spill, so placing feeders as far away from the house as possible is best.

2. Crane damage to certain crops, most notably corn as it germinates in spring, can be prevented. Avipel is an EPA-registered deterrent that will prevent the damage, while not moving birds to other fields where more damage could occur. Learn more about our research on this deterrent.

3. Cranes are highly territorial. Their reflection in doors, windows and cars can be perceived as an interloper in their home. To prevent potential damage from the cranes pecking at their reflection, cover or block access to the reflective surfaces. For example, cover car windows with a car cover or place potted plants in front of ground-level windows.

4. Cranes with young that are too small to fly often are found alongside roads where they are vulnerable to getting struck and killed. Being observant for wildlife where human development intersects with wildlife habitat and slowing down will be safer for animals and people alike.

5. When observing cranes from the roadside, remember to respect private property and do not trespass. Likewise, be careful on well-traveled roads and pull over in a safe place to observe.

6. If you encounter a Whooping Crane in the wild, please give them the respect and distance they need. Always respect private property. Remain in your vehicle and do not approach any closer than 200 yards. Also, please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough for the birds to hear you. If the birds begin changing their behavior from loafing or feeding to walking away, you are likely too close!

7. If you find an injured bird, search for a local licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility online through your state natural resources agency. Contact your local veterinarian if the crane is in obvious distress or may be in a dangerous situation. Often, the crane will be ok with a minor injury, such as missing toes or a limp. A wing injury may preclude migration, but in an otherwise healthy bird, it may not be possible to capture it to bring it into care.

8. If you see a banded crane, please report your sighting here. These colorful bands, or rings, are used by researchers to mark and identify cranes. Many researchers across North America – and the world – band cranes to help answer questions about migration, habitat selection and other topics.

9. As an endangered species, it is illegal to hunt Whooping Cranes. Sandhill Cranes are legally hunted during specified hunting seasons in 17 states and two provinces in several flyways.

States and provinces with legal Sandhill Crane hunting seasons are shaded in grey.

10. Last, but not least, remember to enjoy the beauty and majesty of our favorite birds!