Sandhill Crane at Modoc NWR

Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) are among the oldest living birds. The oldest unequivocal Sandhill Crane fossil is 2.5 million years old, over one and a half times older than the earliest remains of most living species of birds.

Sandhill Crane at Modoc NWR

Sandhill Cranes fly south for the winter and in their wintering areas they form flocks of over 10,000 birds.

Sandhill Crane at Modoc NWR

The Cuban Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis nesiotes and the Mississippi Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis pulla are listed as endangered species. This is a photo of a Mississippi Sandhill Crane colt being weighed at White Oak Conservation, photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. In 1975 there were less than 35 of these birds remaining on the planet prompting the creation of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.

Mississippi Snadhill Crane Colt

The students of Umatilla Middle School in Florida recently installed its first ever “Sandhill Crane Crossing” sign. The kids there were worried about the fate of the threatened Florida Sandhill Crane so they got together and decided to do something about it. “Whenever you see one on the side of the road dead, it kind of makes you feel bad,” said seventh-grader Desiree Schildroth. “You don’t want them to go extinct, so we want to protect them. Just because we are kids, doesn’t mean we can’t do things,” she said.

Sandhill Crane Crossing Sign

People everywhere seem to love these charismatic birds and Sandhill Crane festivals are held across the country. One of the few Spring festivals is being held in Othello, Washington this coming weekend, March 28th through the 30th. That festival is supported by the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. You can read more about the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge on the Wildlife Conservation Stamp’s Blog page.

The photographs of the adult Sandhill Cranes in this post were taken at Modoc National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern California. Sandhill Cranes nest at the Modoc NWR and I will be following up with a post on that refuge soon, and most likely one later in the season when I can get some great photos of the cranes that nest right off the auto tour route there. I’m looking forward to that! Until then, here is one of the many cranes that were performing their mating dance when I visited about a month ago.

Sandhill Crane at Modoc NWR

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Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.