Sandhill Crane

Antigone canadensis

Though Sandhill Cranes (family Gruidae) are tall, leggy birds. They are known more than grazers than as waders. From the aggressive attacks I’ve witnessed by Red-Winged Blackbirds in Utah and North-Eastern California, the cranes may prey on nests while in their breeding range. Unlike their taller cousin the Whooping Crane, their population as a whole is not threatened, and while their cousins migrate in pairs or small family groups, Sandhill Cranes fly in formation in large flocks, often so high as to go unnoticed except for their haunting calls.

Science recognises six subspecies of Sandhill Cranes, three of which are listed as endangered (Cuban, Florida, and Mississippi Sandhill Cranes). Prior to 2010, these birds were classified in the genus Grus, but genetic studies convinced scientists to revive the genus Antigone, first proposed Geman naturalist Ludwig Reichenbach in 1853.

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