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 (km2) 33,500,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 4,530,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 450000-550000 poor inferred 2011
Population trend Increasing estimated -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 12.04 - - -

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 Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Bermuda (to UK) V Extant Yes
Canada N Extant Yes Yes
China (mainland) V Extant
Cuba N Extant Yes
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) V Extant
Greenland (to Denmark) V Extant
Ireland V Extant
Japan N Extant
Mexico N Extant Yes
Netherlands V Extant
Russia N Extant Yes
Russia (Asian) N Extant Yes
South Korea N Extant
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) V Extant
Taiwan, China V Extant
United Kingdom V Extant
USA N Extant 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 Wavy Lake
Canada Beaverhill Lake
Canada Frank Lake (north)
Canada White Lake Area
Canada Douglas Lake Plateau
Canada Tachick and Nulki Lakes
Canada Nelson River Estuary and Marsh Point
Canada Netley-Libau Marsh
Canada Oak Lake/Plum Lakes Area
Canada Whitewater Lake
Canada Langruth - Rm of Lakeview
Canada Saskatchewan River Delta
Canada Queen Maud Gulf
Canada St. Mary's River Complex (Echo Bay ON to Maxton Bay MI)
Canada Holiday Beach / Big Creek CA
Canada Moose River Estuary
Canada Spring Bay
Canada Northeast James Bay Coast
Canada Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area
Canada Quill Lakes
Canada Luck Lake
Canada Galloway and Miry Bay
Canada Kutawagan Lake
Canada Foam Lake
Canada Ponass Lake
Canada McIntyre Beach and Rose Spit
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
Mexico Janos - Nuevo Casas Grandes
USA Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area and surrounding areas
USA Rowe Sanctuary
USA Upper Tanana River Valley
Mexico Laguna de Mexicanos
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
Mexico Complejo de Humedales del Noroeste de Chihuahua

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 (2022) Species factsheet: Grus canadensis. Downloaded from on 09/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 09/12/2022.