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Maleficent & Hubert
Range/Habitat: Sandhill cranes are found across North America and the Arctic. They are found in wetlands, fields and prairies across North America. In the winter, they migrate south where they can be found in immense flocks in areas such as Bosque del Apache, New Mexico, and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. They breed in some northern areas of the US, across Canada, and in the Arctic. We have Sandhill cranes in northern Utah in the spring/summer! Look for them in places like Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.
Behavior: The omnivorous Sandhill Crane feeds mainly in marshes and surrounded areas. It probes with its beak for plant material, seeds, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. In the winter, they form large, loosely formed flocks of up to tens of thousands of cranes that forage together. Juvenile or injured cranes defend themselves from predators, such as foxes, coyotes, and bobcats, by striking with their talons. They also use their talons as defense against aerial predators, such as eagles.
Breeding: Sandhill cranes mate for life. They chose their partners through dancing displays in which they spread their wings, bob their heads, and leap into the air! Females lay 1-3 eggs per clutch, but usually only one chick survives. Chicks are born precocial, or well developed and covered in down. They can leave their nests within 8hrs of hatching and are even able to swim. However, they stick with their parents until they are 9 or 10 months old (just before the next breeding season).
Conservation: Least Concern. Sandhill crane populations are currently stable. However, isolated populations in Mississippi and Cuba are endangered.