Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sandhill Cranes

The range of the Sandhill Crane runs from Northeast Siberia through Alaska, Canada and the US to Cuba.  They live in wetlands, tundras, grasslands, marshes and fields.  In winter they migrate to the warmer areas of their range.  Here we see Sandhill Cranes foraging for food in southwest Florida.

Omnivores, Sandhill Cranes eat many things including mice, grains, plants, aquatic invertebrates, worms, insects, frogs, snakes and berries.
Some Sandhill Crane Facts
- average lifespan:  7-20 years
- wingspan:  5-6 feet
-  length (from bill to tail):  31.5-47 inches
-  weight:  6.5-14 pounds
-  predators (to the nest and/or the birds):  ravens, crows, owls, hawks, eagles, wolves, foxes, raccoons, lynxes, coyotes, bobcats
Sandhill Cranes have gray feathers with a red spot on the head.  Juvenile Sandhills are beige and gray.  It takes about two and a half years for the bird to achieve full adult plumage. Some cranes appear brown because they have been digging in mud for tubers.  They preen with mud on their beaks, spreading it onto their feathers.  The result is the bird version of a henna rinse.
During mating, the pair sings together lustily with heads thrown back.  This "unison calling" is often accompanied by leaping and dancing.  The female lays two eggs in a ground nest.  Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch in 28-30 days.  After three weeks the young can feed themselves but usually remain with the parents until they are 9-10 months of age.
Sandhill Cranes are the most common crane in the world.
Hear the voice and see some pictures of Sandhill Cranes. 

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