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National Bird Project - Vote for Canada's National Bird
National Bird Project - Vote for Canada's National Bird

Wading Birds, Gulls and Shorebirds

Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis )

Votes: 50

Sandhill crane
Photo illustration: Canadian Geographic; Photo: Thomas Penny / CG Photo Club

These are large, tall birds with long legs, wings and necks, and heads smaller than their grey bills. Adults are mainly grey, with the exception of their red crowns, white cheeks and throats and black legs. The sandhill crane’s North American breeding habitat stretches from Alaska to Baffin Island and Southern Ontario. They prefer marshy tundra, wetlands and prairie ponds.

(Both Sexes)
Weight 3.4-4.9 kg
Length 1.2 m
Wingspan 2 m
Sandhill crane range map
Range map courtesy iBird for Windows
Click to enlarge

Vote for the Sandhill crane for Canada’s National Bird


Comments and essays appear in the language in which they were submitted

Sandhill cranes are a majestic and ancient bird species that breed and migrate throughout Canada. Their wetland habitat contains a diverse set of plants and animals integral for maintaining ecosystem function across Canada.

I think the Sandhill Crane should be Canada's national bird because its colouring looks "north" to me. Also, the Latin, French, and Spanish names for it all mention Canada. Another factor for me is the fact that Sandhill Cranes are a common sight for my grandfather, who works in Marchand quite often. In my opinion, a bird with such colouring, naming, and heritage, should be Canada's national bird.

Resultant Force - continued!

With regard to Sand Hills circling in their migratory flights in order to catch rising thermals created from heated fields; I refute this theory for several reasons.

First of all, I'm not denying that the cranes are receiving lift from thermals; I'm sure they do. My point is - if you care to think about it, very few days will provide significant thermals, that are rising and at the same time as well as 'drifting with the wind' in the same direction as the migratory routes.

Further, the size of the overlapping 'race track' described by the ever circling flock seems consistently large; while thermals are most often quite small, with the occasionally massive thermal lifting off now and then.

I think we might find the flocks are circling on days when atmospheric stability is the rule and as such - no rising air is possible.

Although I am horrified to envision various 'radar' emissions attacking our wildlife more or less unthinkingly, it occurs to me that existing Doppler Weather Radar data might advance our knowledge of Sand Hill migratory habits. Unfortunate an approach as it may be. library time is up bye

I am interested in the Sand Hill Crane's propensity to fly in large circling patterns across the sky. I have in fact presented the question to a very obliging 'Mr. Bill Lishman' who suggested that the flocks are thermaling.

However, I'm not convinced - although it has also been suggested that it's a 'gathering in numbers' technique; as they're call is carried in as broad a area as possible.

And admittedly, I am partially open to this ideology.

Still I feel it far more provocative and intriguing than any of those alibis.
As I already stated to 'Lishman' I feel this particular flight configuration allows these deities to find a balancing point between Centrifugal & Centripetal forces - propelling them most effortlessly towards their journey's end.

As i see it - they circle on a grande carousel with one force pulling them towards the center (a slip - in aviation terms) while the other throws them outside the circle ( a skid) creating a resulting force that eases their uh... bird-en.

If you would like to hear more about it - please return an email to me. I could, if you like provide something of an article of some kind for publication.


Remarkable Bird!

Souvent difficile à distinguer parmi les grandes herbes dans l'eau, on est toujours émerveillé lorsqu'on le découvre. Statuesque à ces heures et vif comme la lumière à d'autres moments. On croirait qu'il ne nous a pas vu, mais il est aux aguets.

Je trouve cette oiseaux élégant avec un système de sécurité bien organisé. Très bel oiseaux au vol.

The Sandhill crane is under estimated. It has the oldest known DNA. It has been used to help the Whooping cranes survive--rightly or wrongly. Due to the lack of awareness of how important they are, in some places like the Fraser River Region or Metro Vancouver, they are becoming endangered. They are like the "canaries in the mine." Their disappearance sounds the warning that our bogs/peatlands, wetlands are disappearing.

Cranes represent happiness, longivity and good fortune in many cultures. In the Katzie 1st Nation culture, the spirit of the Sandhill crane is given to a young woman who is gifted in handiwork and it comes down through the grandmother.

I love to hear them as they travel the skies, northbound in the spring, southbound in the fall.
They remind us of the seasons.

They say hurry, hurry, hurry get your berries in the freezer as winter is on the wind behind us! Hurry, Hurry!
I lay back on the ground and look up at the V with wonder and awe!

I love to hear them as they travel the skies, northbound in the spring, southbound in the fall.
They remind us of the seasons.

They say hurry, hurry, hurry get your berries in the freezer as winter is on the wind behind us! Hurry, Hurry!
I lay back on the ground and look up at the V with wonder and awe!

Its range is heavily centred in North America. It is beautiful and striking. Its Latin name is

Grus canadensis

Will make people think about it.

The Sandhill Crane is the best representation of Canada in bird form.

The Sand Hill Crane, like the Beaver, Moose and Polar Bear, is quintessentially Canadian in their resilience and quirkiness. Migrating through the central heart of North America to nest in the rough, barren, private north and return south for the winter is exactly what Canadians aspire to doing in their lives. The Sand Hill Crane's unique appearance and shy yet quietly determined demeanour makes it the most Canadian of any bird I have known. Tall, lanky and ungainly, like so many of the wonderful young men who have worked to build communities across our great nation, the Sand Hill Crane just carries on with the necessities of life and watches the frenetic, publicly popular fly by. In the true spirit of conservation we need to continue doing all we can to bolster this unique species and identifying Sand Hill Crane as Canada's Bird will help people see it's beauty and value it's existence in our midst.

It is common across Canada. It flies at up heights to 5,000 feet. Seeing a large flock is exhilarating ... and their call and THE DANCE a sight to behold.
They fly so high, I have heard them clearly, but can not see them. An amazing bird.

The sandhill crane is an awesome bird that signifies spirits in the clouds. They fly very high, and yet the chattering conversations amongst them are heard from below. Their size dominates a clear cut and as they take off after a sudden approach, the wind of the their massive wings can be felt. The beauty of their smooth flight is calming to watch.

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