Sandhill Crane

Dennis Stewart

Keller, United States

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Artist's Description

A lucky shot showcasing the Sandhill Crane fluffing out her feathers after a mild sprinkling of rain.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Adults are gray overall; during breeding, the plumage is usually much worn and stained, particularly in the migratory populations, and looks nearly ochre. The sandhill crane has a red forehead, white cheeks and a long dark pointed bill. Its long dark legs trail behind in flight, and the long neck is kept straight in flight. Immature birds have reddish brown upperparts and gray underparts. The sexes look alike. Size varies among the different subspecies. This crane frequently gives a loud trumpeting call that suggests a French-style “r” rolled in the throat, and they can be heard from a long distance.

Mated pairs of cranes engage in “unison calling.” The cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The female makes two calls for every single call of the male.

The only other large grayish-bodied bird of North America is the Great Blue Heron. This heron is of similar dimensions to the Sandhill Crane and is sometimes mistakenly called a crane, even though it is very different in plumage details and build. Like other herons, it flies with its neck tucked toward the body.

The sandhill crane’s large wingspan (up to 6½ feet) makes this a very skilled soaring bird similar in style to hawks and eagles. Utilizing thermals to obtain lift, they can stay aloft for many hours, requiring only occasional flapping of their wings and consequently expending little energy. With migratory flocks containing hundreds of birds, they can create clear outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of air (thermals) that they ride.

Although it is rare, some Sandhill Cranes have been spotted devouring their young. If the mated pair recognizes a weakness in a young bird, they will eat it.

Artwork Comments

  • Karen  Moore
  • Dennis Stewart
  • Lynda   McDonald
  • Dennis Stewart
  • Ginny York
  • Dennis Stewart
  • gdbeeler
  • Dennis Stewart
  • CreativeJuices1
  • Dennis Stewart
  • KatsEye
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