There is the 'Greater' and 'Lesser' Sandhill Crane. The Lesser has a shorter bill, neck, legs, but longer and darker wings. The lesser Sandhill Cranes are gray and identified by their somewhat "rusty forehead", colored thus, it is said, due to the iron in the water of their breeding grounds.
The Sandhill Crane attains adult size rapidly, but retains brownish plumage and has no red on its head.
The Sandhill Crane flies with head and legs extended, unlike the heron.
The elaborate mating dance of the Sandhill Crane is a wonder to behold. The male and female face one another and leap into the air with wings extended and feet thrust forward. They bow and then repeat the entire performance. In their exuberance, the happy couple also runs about, wings outstretched, and toss tufts of grass in the air.
This bird breeds in fresh water marsh in the Alaskan Tundra across to Hudson Bay and down to the Great Lakes, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Calls or song.
When alerted, the Sandhill Crane trumpets a loud rattle, "tuck-a-tuck-a-tuck-a", which can be heard a considerable distance away. While in flight and when feeding, the crane 'purrs'.
Population and distribution.
The Sandhill numbers have always been greater than the Whooping Crane due to its breeding in the Arctic area, undisturbed by human activity. However, wetlands areas throughout the world are being developed, and their population will shrink accordingly.
During migration, the Sandhill frequents the grain fields and ponds of the Prairie States on the way to the southern regions of the Country and Mexico.
The Sandhill lays 2 buff eggs, spotted brown, in a mound of grass and aquatic plants in a marsh.