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Food Web

sandhill crane

Grus canadensis

by francis barinwa


kingdom: animalia
species:Grus canadensis

Physical Description

Sandhill cranes are large birds with heavy bodies and long necks and legs. They stand about 1.2 m tall, with wing spans of about 2 m. They are uniformly grayish, with a white cheek and a bald red crown. Sandhill cranes can be distinguished from other large wading birds in flight by their outstretched neck, and their wingbeats, which are a slow downward beat followed by a quick upward flick.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Sandhill cranes are omnivorous birds that use their bills to probe for subsurface food and glean seeds and other foods, it also means that they eat a variety of plant and animal matter. These birds feed on land or in shallow marshes with vegetation. Foods vary depending on what is available. Cultivated grains such as corn, wheat and sorghum are a major food source in their diet when available. In northern latitudes, a wider variety of foods are consumed, including berries, small mammals, insects, snails, reptiles, and amphibians.


Sandhill cranes are monogamous. Breeding pairs stay together from year to year, maintaining their attraction by performing courtship displays and calling to each other. Breeding pairs form during spring migration. Five courtship displays have been identified as part of "dancing." These displays are the Upright wing stretch, Horizontal head pump, Bow, Vertical leap and Vertical toss. Three courtship displays are used exclusively by paired adults to maintain their bond and synchronize reproductive development.


Most sandhill crane populations nest in open grasslands, such as wet meadows, fresh water, and marshes or bogs. Their are six subspecies of sandhill cranes and each nest in the open wet grassland habitat of their region. They also live are the terrestrial biomes.

Role in the Ecosystem 

The key role that sandhill cranes play is by eating the vegetation within the ecosystem. They also favor short and preffering grass species. Sandhill cranes are mainly prey. They get attacked by avian predators and mammalia predators. The niche of the sandhill crane is very important. A niche is the role an animal has in its habitat. Young and sick sandhill cranes provide food for their predators. Sandhill cranes affect population of species that they prey upon. They also host at least twenty four different species of parasites.