Sandhill Crane observation page
This page has been designed for observations and sightings of Sandhill Cranes within British Columbia in order to increase our understanding of movements, distribution and overall knowledge of this species within the province.
This project is part of a larger research attempt to learn more about the highly threatened and unique population of Sandhill Cranes within the South Coast of British Columbia. If you would like to know more about on this project, please click here.
We suggest that observations of Sandhill Cranes outside of British Columbia are added directly to ebird.
Why submit observations?
The Sandhill Cranes of the Fraser River Delta and Coastal British Columbia represent unique subpopulations of this species that currently have no federal, provincial or municipal protection measures. There is very little funding available for research and monitoring of species such as Sandhill Cranes and any data collected, even incidentally, is very valuable to furthering our understanding of this unique bird.
What is a Sandhill Crane?
The Sandhill Crane is one of two species of cranes found within Canada and British Columbia. There are three subspecies recognized in Canada, all of which are found in BC. Cranes are very large birds, with Sandhills being the second tallest bird in North America, reaching heights of approximately 1-1.2m and have wingspans as wide as 1.8-2m depending on subspecies.
How do I know if I saw a Sandhill Crane?
There are very few birds that can be confused for a Sandhill Crane based on their size, wingspan and distinct call. The only species that can readily be misidentified for a crane is the Great-blue Heron as they share similar wetland habitats. Sandhill Cranes are light grey or occasionally rusty brown in colour. They have distinctive red crowns on their head and dark grey or black bills, while Great-blue Herons have no red crown and have a yellow/olive bill. In flight, Sandhill Cranes have an elongated neck while Great-blue Herons fly with a curved neck and have two-toned wings.
Great Blue Heron
A comparison of Sandhill Cranes and Great-blue Herons. Notice the differences in wing and bill colour between both species and the prominent red crown markings of the crane. Th extended neck of Sandhill cranes compared to the curved s-shape neck of herons and egrets is also a good reference for birds in flight.