Greater Sandhill Crane

Grus canadensis
Greater Sandhill Cranes

Greater sandhill cranes are a common sight on the refuge in the spring, summer and early fall. Pairs begin arriving in February and March from the Central Valley of California. After arriving they will move to their traditional nesting territory - 20 to 40 acres - which includes wet meadows and cattail/tule marshes. Over 240 pairs have established nesting territories on Malheur.

Parents will discourage last year's colt from staying near their territory as they begin preparations for nesting. Young and unpaired birds will flock together in meadows to feed and interact. Older birds, who have lost a mate, may select a new mate from this congregation of birds.

Cranes construct their nests of cattails and tules in wetlands within their territory. The nest may be floating on the water or on top of cattails and tules. The life history of cranes is complex and very interesting.


Facts About Greater Sandhill Crane

Live up to age 20

A banded crane returned to Malheur for 27 years

Are nearly 5 feet tall

Wingspan is 6.5 feet

Mate for life

Begin breeding between 2 and 7 years old

Young are called colts