Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) 21 November 2009 at Staten Island, SJ Photo © 2009 Joseph Morlan
 
 These impressive birds, concentrate at favored localities in the Central Valley of California where they winter in flooded fields with stubble. Suitable habitat is rapidly being lost as traditional agricultural fields are converted to vineyards.

These cranes often remain together in family groups during migration and winter.

They are famous for their wild vocalizations created in part by their long trachea which coils inside a hollow breast bone. Once heard it is unforgettable, but hard to describe. I liken it to a frog playing a trumpet.

Although widespread in North America, this species also breeds in parts of Siberia. Several subspecies have been recognized or proposed differing primarily in size. Central Valley wintering populations consist of large G. c. tabida (Greater Sandhill Crane) and smaller G. c. canadensis (Lesser Sandhill Crane). Note that the second bird is banded and color marked. These markings may allow us to determine its breeding population. Most of the color marked birds at Staten Island are Greater Sandhill Cranes.

Added note: Gary Ivey of the Internation Crane Foundation wrote that this bird is one of 3 Greater Sandhill Cranes banded at Modoc National Wildlife Refuge in 1990, 1998 or 2003. If we had seen the other leg, we could have determined which of the three it was.

Digiscoped with Panasonic DMC-LZ5 | Nikon FieldScope 3 | 30X WA | hand-held (no adapter)

Reference: Sandhill Crane Monitoring at Staten Island 2002-03 by Gary Ivey, Caroline Herziger (PDF)
 
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