by francis barinwa
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
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.