The scoop on Sandhill Cranes

By Taylor on February 26, 2015 in Blog

Sandhill Cranes at Chichaqua

With Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) season approaching in mid-March, take the opportunity to brush up on your crane knowledge.This bird has been in Iowa since the nineteenth century, but as European settlements grew, the Sandhill Crane population decreased. At the turn of the twentieth century, even migrant cranes were rare. But in 1992, Sandhill Cranes successfully nested in Iowa again at Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area in Tama County, according to the Iowa DNR.

Now, the birds are no strangers to INHF areas and have been spotted on various properties, such as Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt and Ham Marsh.

Check out these other five facts about Sandhill Cranes:

1) They perform mating rituals. Known for their dancing ability, Sandhill Cranes display to each other by stretching their wings, bowing and leaping into the air. And once they’ve courted The One, there’s no going back. These cranes mate for life.

2) They’re migratory. Some subspecies live year-round in Mississippi, Florida and Cuba, but many Sandhill Cranes migrate from the northern U.S. to the southern U.S. and northern Mexico during the winter months.

3) They’re loud. Their unique bugling calls can be heard from miles away–even when they pass overhead during migration. The trumpeting calls each last a few seconds and are often strung together.

4) They nest in wetlands. They breed in marsh-like areas with dense vegetation and prefer places with standing water.

5) They enjoy company. During migration, Sandhill Cranes form flocks with tens of thousands of members and maintain such groups on their wintering grounds.

Read more about the Sandhill Crane at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.