Sandhill Crane
(Grus canadensis)


Picture of bird
© Rick Leche
For additional photos and songs, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

North American Sandhill Cranes include several migratory sub-populations breeding in grasslands, wetlands, and meadows throughout many regions of Canada, as well as a few small resident populations in the United States (Gerber et al. 2014). Historically, Sandhill Crane populations experienced dramatic declines throughout North America as a result of habitat loss, disturbance and hunting. Today, results of the Christmas Bird Count and other surveys support a consistently strong population growth since about 1970. Sandhill Cranes were designated Not At Risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 1979 because of their high abundance and continued increases over several decades. With such a large percentage of the global breeding population, Canada's responsibility for the Sandhill Crane is very high. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Wildspecies (Canada)Secure2010 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaLarge IncreaseHigh

Population estimate

Canada400,000 - 500,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population

CanadaVery High

Conservation and management

Despite strong population growth across North America, Sandhill Cranes remain vulnerable to habitat changes throughout their annual cycle (Gerber et al. 2014). The availability of wetlands and high-quality grassland nesting habitat directly influences the production and survival of young. Large concentrations of birds at relatively few isolated wetlands in the southwest United States during migration and winter (Gerber et al. 2014) increase its vulnerability. With low annual recruitment that limits the ability of the species to rebound from population losses, protection of these key staging and wintering sites as well as careful management of the harvested population are considered essential to Sandhill Crane conservation (Gerber et al. 2014). Changing crops and agricultural practices may negatively affect the food supply (Gerber et al. 2014).


Bird Conservation Region Strategies

Environment Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified either because of conservation concerns (i.e., those species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats) or because of stewardship responsibilities (i.e., those species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region). Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for that region.

Listing of bird conservation regions, marine biogeographic units and sub-regions
Bird conservation region, marine biogeographic unitSub-region
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region: Ontario Region
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region: Ontario Region
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region: Ontario Region