Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis


Taxonomic note
Grus canadensis (Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International 2021) was previously moved to the genus Antigone (del Hoyo & Collar 2014), having previously been included in Grus (Cramp & Simmons 1977-1994, AERC TAC 2003).
Nominate, rowani and tabida may form a cline, with gradual changes in morphology, and random pairing among them; these three intergrade along limits of their ranges. Subspecies tabida subdivided into five populations, among which morphological differences are noted, but not analysed in taxonomic terms. Subspecies rowani sometimes considered undiagnosable, but probably separable (Johnson, Austin & Shaffer 2005). Validity of pulla has been questioned; based mainly on colour differences from pratensis, but remnant population (in Mississippi) was probably more widespread in the past, and likely to have intergraded with pratensis. Six subspecies recognized.

Taxonomic source(s)
Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International. 2021. Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International digital checklist of the birds of the world. Version 6. Available at:

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency does not normally occur in forest
Land-mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence (breeding/resident) 33,500,000 km2 medium
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 4,530,000 km2 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size 450000-550000 mature individuals poor inferred 2011
Population trend increasing - estimated -
Generation length 12.04 years - - -

Population justification: The population is inferred to number 670,000-830,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2020), which roughly equates to 450,000-550,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification: The species has been undergoing a large, significant increase at an average rate of 5% per year between 1970 and 2019 (Rosenberg et al. 2019; Partners in Flight 2020). The population in North America has increased by >600% over the past three generations (Pardieck et al. 2018). The population in Cuba is stable (Wetlands International 2020).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding visitor Non-breeding visitor Passage migrant
Bermuda (to UK) extant vagrant yes
Canada extant native yes yes
China (mainland) extant vagrant
Cuba extant native yes
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) extant vagrant
Greenland (to Denmark) extant vagrant
Ireland extant vagrant
Japan extant native
Mexico extant native yes
Netherlands extant vagrant
Russia extant native yes
Russia (Asian) extant native yes
South Korea extant native
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) extant vagrant
Taiwan, China extant vagrant
United Kingdom extant vagrant
USA extant native yes yes yes yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Russia (Asian) Kolyma delta
Russia (Asian) Lower Anadyr lowlands
Russia (Asian) Kanchalan river basin
Russia (Asian) Meechkyn spit and adjacent plain
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) North, Middle and East Caicos Ramsar Site
Canada Beaverhill Lake
Canada Douglas Lake Plateau
Canada Queen Maud Gulf
Canada Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area
Canada Quill Lakes
Canada Luck Lake
Canada Galloway and Miry Bay
Cuba Cienaga de Lanier y Sur de la Isla de la Juventud
Cuba Ciénaga de Zapata
Cuba Gran Humedal del Norte de Ciego de Ávila
USA Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area and surrounding areas
USA Rowe Sanctuary
USA Upper Tanana River Valley
USA Willcox Playa /Cochise Lakes
USA Whitewater Draw State Wildlife Area
USA Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
USA Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
USA Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex
USA Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
USA Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area
Mexico Laguna de Bustillos
Russia (Asian) Chaun delta
Russia (Asian) San-Yuryakh
Russia (Asian) West Chaun plain
Mexico Complejo de Humedales del Noroeste de Chihuahua
Mexico Laguna de Mexicanos
Russia (Asian) Kytalyk
Russia (Asian) Yana delta

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Temperate suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major breeding
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits  

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - non-trivial recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Grus canadensis. Downloaded from on 11/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 11/12/2023.