Sandhill Cranes
Florida Sandhill Cranes
Photo credit: SFWMD
Crane Sounds: USGS/NorthWord Press


The Endangered Birds of Florida




The Sandhill Crane
Grus canadensis pratensis


To begin: what is a Bird?

A Bird is a warm blooded, bipedal (two legs)

vertebrate (has a backbone) with feathers,

bills and wings and most can fly.

It lays eggs to reproduce and many theories have

it classified as a direct descendant of Dinosaurs,

dating back to the Jurassic period.

The Florida Sandhill Crane is one of 2 Crane species in Florida,

the other being the spectacular Whooping Crane.

These 2 Cranes are the only ones in North America

and are most likely the oldest birds on Earth,

dating back possibly to over 6 million years.


There are 2 kinds of Sandhill Cranes in Florida,

resident and migratory.


The Sandhills Cranes are about 47 inches tall,

have a wingspan of 79 inches and

weigh about 11 pounds.

Crane lifespan averages 20-24 years.


Sandhills Cranes normally have 2 chicks/babies,

but rarely do they both survive.

As with other great birds, they

care for their young together.


Both Crane species mate for life, however if their

mate dies or is killed, they will remate.


When Cranes fly, it is normally in a breath

taking formation, commanding full attention.


As these magnificent birds fly over homes

here in the Ocala Forest, they often squawk in a

bugle sound announcing their presence quite loudly.

their sounds can actually be heard for several miles away.


Young ones alone in a field will often call repeatedly

until a parent shows up to calm its fears.

This primordial call is an eerie auditory reminder of

what the era of the dinosaur must have been like.


Go here to hear the Sandhills squawk:

Operation Crane Watch


Our Cranes can frequently be found in an open pasture with

local cattle, consuming an easy meal of corn and grains.


Many days, they land in the field across the street from us and

carry on for a bit making sure everyone has noticed them.

Whenever someone lets their dog run loose in the field,

they squawk loudly and fly off disgruntled for a moment,

but they return to continue eating after the invader has left.

They do not share~

Sandhill Cranes with their 2 Babies
Sandhill Cranes with chicks
Photo credit: SFWMD

The Cranes are often spotted in fields along County Road 42,

just outside Paisley and are usually in pairs or with a single chick.


The exception was an occasion recently, when 3 of them

were observed near the Paisley Post Office parking lot in

what appeared to be a battle between 2 males for a female.

Sandhills in the Ocala Forest

Hopefully, these beautiful, graceful birds will always be here

in the Ocala National Forest in Central Florida for us to enjoy.

A final note:

There is a wonderful documentary on PBS,

if you are lucky enough to get to see it:

Crane Song

It details the travels of the Cranes

and has some unforgettable moments~

Places to learn more:


Boreal Songbird Initiative

Sandhill Crane



All about Birds: The Sandhill Crane


Dr. Gary Krapu

Sandhill Cranes and the Platte River

A Tale of Sandhill Cranes


International Crane Foundation

Species Sandhill


National Geographic

Crane Cam - live during Migration - late February to April


Nature Conservancy

Sandhill Cranes


Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Spring Migration - Sandhill Cranes


Northern Prairie Wildlife Center

The Cranes


Rowe Sanctuary

Sandhill Cranes


Southwest Florida Water Management

Sandhill Cranes



Walking with the Alligators

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Educating Visitors About Florida's Wildlife Since June 6, 2008

Last edited January 17, 2023

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