Sandhill Crane - International Crane Foundation

International Crane Foundation


Sandhill Crane

Grus canadensis

HEIGHT: ~ 80 – 120 cm, 3 – 5 ft
WEIGHT: ~ 3 – 6.5 kg, 6.5 – 14 lbs
TREND: Eastern and Central Valley populations increasing; Mid-continent, Pacific Coast, Lower Colorado River Valley and Rocky Mountain populations stable or increasing; Florida population stable to perhaps increasing; Cuba population stable to decreasing; Mississippi population decreasing
 – Lesser
tabida – Greater
pratensis – Florida
pulla – Mississippi
nesiotes – Cuban
STATUS: IUCN: LC; Cites Appendix II;
ssp. pulla: Cites Appendix I & ESA: E;
ssp. nesiotes: Cites Appendix I & ESA: E


A crane fossil found in Nebraska from the Pliocene period (5.3-2.6 million years ago) appears structurally identical to the modern Sandhill Crane, making it one of the oldest known bird species!


Adults – red patch on forehead, legs black, plumage varying shades of grey and brown, body size varies by subspecies; juveniles – cinnamon-brown feathers

Did you see a banded Sandhill Crane? Click here to report your sighting.

Download FREE Sandhill Crane images.


The two migratory subspecies (Lesser and Greater) are distributed across a broad breeding range in the northern U.S. and Canada as well as eastern Siberia, with wintering grounds in the southern United States and northern Mexico. The three non-migratory subspecies (Mississippi, Cuban and Florida) have restricted ranges in the southern United States and Cuba.

Note that we recognize five Sandhill Crane subspecies per the IOC Master list v 8.2. The Canadian subspecies rowani was found in 2001 to have insignificant genetic differentiation and is included in the Greater subspecies tabida (Rhymer et al, 2001).

Click to view range map

View our Sandhill Crane Finder to explore Sandhill Crane distribution and locate cranes near you! AND take a tour through our interactive story map and learn about a few of our favorite locations for viewing cranes in the United States.


Plant tubers, grains, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects and grain such as corn.


Loud, rattling kar-r-r-o-o-o. Listen to Sandhill Crane calls:

Contact Call  | A soft, purring call expressing reassurance and location.

Unison Calls | A duet performed by a pair, to strengthen their bond and protect their territory.

Guard Call | A sharp, single call expressing alarm.


Conversion of grasslands to agriculture, afforestation and other development, habitat loss and conflicts with agriculture.


Conduct applied research on issues important to the future of Sandhill Cranes, and develop creative solutions to emerging conservation challenges. We are:

  • Promoting the use of deterrents for those farmers who have experienced crop damage from cranes.
  • Assessing the impacts of hunting on Sandhill Cranes and the illegal shooting of Whooping Cranes and sharing that information with stakeholders and decision-makers.
  • Monitoring impacts of power line and wind turbine development and collaborating with the industry to develop and implement strategies that reduce risks to cranes.
  • Investigating how habitat changes affect crane reproductive success potential.


Become a crane counter! The International Crane Foundation coordinates the Annual Midwest Crane Count each April in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Click here to get involved.

Adopt a Sandhill Crane

Become a member of the International Crane Foundation.

Learn more about Sandhill Cranes:

Mirande CM, Harris JT, editors. 2019. Crane Conservation Strategy. Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA: International Crane Foundation.