Sandhill Crane
(Grus canadensis)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen
For additional photos and vocalizations, 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 
Wild Species (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 and Climate Change 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 as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region