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Return to Wildlife Viewing Home PageCrane Questions and Answers

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Q. Where do sandhill cranes spend the winter?
A. Texas, New Mexico and northern Mexico.

Q. What do they eat?
A. Cranes are omnivores - they eat a variety of foods. In Nebraska they eat corn, other grains, invertebrates and plant roots or shoots. Cranes also eat small mammals or birds and eggs.

Q. Are cranes hunted?
A. Yes, within the Central Flyway, cranes are hunted in 14 states (except Nebraska) and all of the Canadian provinces. They are difficult to hunt, and usually less than 5 percent of the population is taken annually. Hunting of western and eastern populations of cranes is not allowed.

Q. Are they eaten?
A. Yes, sandhill crane tastes somewhat like goose.

Q. Can you tell males from females?
A. No.

Q. Why are their heads red?
A. The red foreheads on cranes is bare skin which can be flared when cranes are angry or sexually excited.

Q. Are they endangered or threatened?
A. No. As a species, the sandhill crane population is stable or rising.

Q. Do they cause crop damage?
A. Yes, large flocks of cranes like to feed in grain fields across their range. Farmers in central Canada often resort to hazing to keep cranes from damaging wheat fields.

Q. Why are some brown and some gray?
A. Crane feathers are gray to grayish white. In some parts of the country, iron from the soil gives their feathers a reddish-brown tint when the cranes preen.

Q. How can you tell the difference between cranes and herons?
A. Cranes fly with their necks outstretched, while herons have crooked necks. Herons usually fish individually in streams or lake edges; cranes prefer to feed in family units in fields. Herons can land in trees, cranes cannot. Cranes nest in wetlands and do not tolerate other cranes nearby. Herons nest in trees in colonies, called rookeries.

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