Sandhill Cranes

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About Sandhill Crane

One of the most beautiful birds in the United States, and one of the largest. I had no idea that the US had birds as large as this. When I first stumbled across the Sandhill Cranes, I thought they were escaped ostriches -- they were just that large. The good news is that they tend to travel in pairs, so when you see one, you'll almost always see two (or more)...

Sandhill cranes make a lot of noise. If you are looking for them, you'll likely hear the birds before you will see them.

Where to See Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane can be found throughout the United States. But you need to know when and where to look, or you'll miss them. See details below:

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Top Wildlife Photographs -- Click Photo for a Slideshow

Sandhill Crane in Okeefenokee Swamp


Every spring, almost a half million gather on the Platte River between Kearney and Grand Island in central Nebraska to rest after a 200-300 mile a day trip across North America. The spectacular sight draws visitors, and is often considered the foremost bird-watching spot in North America. The migration starts in late February, and peaks in mid-March. See Nebraska nature & Visitors Center, and the Rowe Sanctuary and Audubon Center for tours and information. See Rowe Sanctuary.

Sandhill Crane in Bosque Del Apache

The annual migration of Sandhill Cranes is Nebraska's best wildlife event. Between mid-February and mid-April, tens of thousands that have left their southern wintering grounds gather along about 75 miles of the shallow Platte River near Grand Island and Kearney to feed and gain strength for flights to as far away as Siberia. The Rowe Audubon Sanctuary offers a good vantage point for witnessing the display. -- Michael Whye

New Mexico

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge was one of roving journalist Charles Kuralt's favorite places to visit in November, when thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese and other migratory birds glide to rest and feed in this southern Rio Grande Valley refuge in New Mexico. The giant cranes, with their 6-foot wingspans, ride the thermals, and "their triumphant trumpet calls ... and brassy music got into my soul," Kuralt said. They will get into yours, too. The Festival of the Cranes in November boasts the highest concentration of birds, best seen during the early morning and evening fly-ins and fly-outs -- Jan Butchofsky


The Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado is a great spot. This valley area is an ideal home for seemingly countless varieties of birds. From March through October, sandhill cranes are abundant and many roost on the refuge. For those that enjoy a short hike, a two-mile trail follows the Rio Grand River and offers prime viewing spots.

Sandhill Crane in Bosque Del Apache


Those in the Central Valley of California can get tours run by Save Our Sandhill Cranes (SOS Cranes). Tours are run October through February. See Save Our Sandhill Cranes.


I saw a couple of gorgeous Sandhill Cranes in Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. If you are going to look for them here, use the East Suwanee Entrance, and kayak out to the prairie.


Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, on the Gulf Coast about 30 minutes east of Biloxi in Mississippi, is billed as the only place where visitors may see Mississippi Sandhill cranes in the wild. It's home to more than 100 of the majestic birds. Nature trails wind through pine-filled wetlands, giving visitors glimpses of cranes as well as herons, egrets and hawks. -- Stephanie Granada


Click on any photo to enlarge...


Rowe Sanctuary

Bpsque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge

Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge

Save Our Sandhill Cranes.