Sandhill cranes

Grus canadensis
Crane family profile
To many visitors, Grays Lake Refuge means cranes. It hosts the largest nesting population of greater sandhill cranes in the world; over 200 nesting pairs have been counted in some years. Sandhills begin arriving in early April from their wintering areas in New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico. In the fall, the refuge serves as a staging area where cranes gather before migrating back to the wintering areas. During the staging periods at Grays Lake in late September and early October, as many as 3000 cranes have been observed at one time.

Facts About Sandhill cranes

Cranes are quite large, standing about 4 feet tall and having a 6 foot wingspan.

Cranes eat a wide variety of food items including seeds, plant tubers, grasshoppers, beetles, insect larva, and frogs. 

Their call is a distinctive garooo-a that can be heard at great distances. 

Courting pairs engage in displays which include wing flapping and leaping into the air. 

Cranes mate for life and both parents incubate the eggs and tend the young.