Antigone Canadensis – Sandhill Crane

Antigone Canadensis - Sandhill Crane in the US

Sandhill cranes, also known as Antigone Canadensis, are a massive species of crane that can be found in North America and far northern Siberia. Platte River Bird is the name given to an area of Nebraska’s Sandhills, which is located in the American Plains and where this bird may be seen in large numbers. The lesser sandhill crane Antigone Canadensis utilizes this place as a key resting spot, with upwards of 450,000 birds passing through it each year, making it a popular stop for photographers.

Quick Overview: Antigone Canadensis – Sandhill Crane
Body size: Around 18-20 in (4-51 cm) and a weight of 315 g (11.1 oz)
Main colors: Gray, White, Red
Range: E.g. Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Sandhill Crane Description

A large and muscular bird, sandhill cranes are distinguished by their long necks and long legs. They’re all gray, with white cheeks and a red bald cap, and that’s about it for distinguishing characteristics. The long neck of a Sandhill crane distinguishes it from other big wading birds, as well as its wingbeats, which consist of a steady downward beat followed by a quick upward flip.

Antigone Canadensis - Sandhill Crane in the US
Antigone Canadensis – Sandhill Crane. Photo by: Susan Young


These birds have a length of 18-20 in (4-51 cm) and a weight of 315 g (11.1 oz). Their wings could range from 27-38 in (69-97 cm).


Sandhill cranes are opportunistic feeders that use their beaks to dig for seeds and other delicacies. Sandhill cranes live in North America. Grazing on grasslands and small ponds with vegetation is preferred over other feeding sites. The cuisine available varies according to the season. When accessible, cereals like maize, wheat, and sorghum make up a large part of their diet. Insects and other small creatures are commonly eaten at higher latitudes, including the Arctic and Antarctica.


The majority of sandhill crane populations nest and raise their young on open grasslands, which may include wet meadows, freshwater marshes or bogs, among other habitats. A total of six subspecies of sandhill cranes have been identified, each of which prefers to nest in open, wet grassland habitats. The Cuban Sandhill Crane population, which lives in solitary and lonely conditions in dry, remote areas, is an exception.


Sandhill cranes are not only nocturnal but are also migratory in nature. Northern populations move southward during the winter, whilst southern populations remain near to their breeding habitats throughout the year.

Cranes are normally found in pairs or small family groups, however, they have been observed alone on a few occasions in recent years. It is possible for non-mated cranes to form survival groups that will feed and sleep alongside family groups during the migration and winter season. During migratory and on wintering grounds, it is not uncommon to find these archaic survival groups crowded together in a small area.

Antigone canadensis Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Gruidae
  • Genus: Antigone
  • Species: Antigone canadensis

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Sandhill Crane in the USA

This species breeds throughout North America as far north as Alaska and the Arctic coast of Canada, south into the Great Lakes area, and westward into Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. It breeds in the extreme southeastern United States as well as Cuba. This species spends the winter in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and northern Mexico.

The Sandhill crane can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Antigone Canadensis – Sandhill Crane

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