Sandhill Crane
(Antigone canadensis)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Three Sandhill Crane populations breed in Canada, namely the Central Valley population, the Mid-continent population, and the Eastern population. The Central Valley population breeds mainly in California, but its range extends to the interior, lower Fraser Valley, and northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia (Hearne 2015b). The Mid-continent population, which is the larger of the three, breeds across Canada from northeastern British Columbia to northwestern Ontario, south to the Prairies and north to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Its population is stable and above the North American Waterfowl Management Plan population objective. The Eastern population of Sandhill Crane breeds in eastern Ontario from the Great Lakes as far north as southern James Bay, and into western to central Quebec. This population’s numbers show a long-term increasing trend and are above the population objective. In Canada, the harvest of Sandhill Cranes is allowed only in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon. The harvest has been variable, but it has increased slightly over the years. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Not at Risk1979Sandhill Crane tabida subspecies
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level
Mid-ContinentModerate IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level
EasternLarge IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500,000 - 600,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery High

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late March and early June and ends between early July and mid-July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Sandhill Crane populations endured significant declines throughout North America during the first half of the 20th century, primarily due to habitat loss, increased human encroachment, and overhunting (Gerber et al. 2014). The conservation of Sandhill Crane critical habitat (e.g., roosting habitat) is likely the most important factor to consider for the long-term conservation of the population. In fact, the single most important factor regulating Sandhill Crane populations is thought to be habitat availability (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 and Manitoba -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation