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Mississippi Sandhill Crane

Mississippi Sandhill Crane

Animal's Behavior

The Mississippi Sandhill Crane's large wingspan (6 to 8 feet when fully grown) helps it to soar in the sky. These birds use thermal air streams to stay aloft for many hours, requiring only occasional flapping of their wings. This is useful in conserving energy. The Mississippi Sandhill Cranes mate for life, but rarely lay more than two eggs per year.

Eating Habits

Sandhill cranes are opportunistic feeders and will will change their diet based on what is available. They most often eat plants and grains, but also dine on invertebrates or even small mammals, amphibians and reptiles. They search for food in shallow water, probing with their bills.


Jackson County, Mississippi. The original range followed the wet pine savannah habitat across the southern Gulf coast from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.

Conservation Efforts

Audubon Nature Institute's Species Survival Center had the first Mississippi Sandhill Crane that was hatched from an egg fertilized by a sperm that was previously thawed from a cryogenic state. This is part of this subspecies' Recovery Plan. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Gulf Coast Refuge Complex established in 1975 under authority of the Endangered Species Act to protect the critically endangered Mississippi Sandhill Crane and their habitat. The non-migratory Mississippi Sandhill Crane population has increased from about 30 cranes in the 1970s to the almost 130 birds.

Animal Facts

  • In the wild Mississippi Sandhill Cranes can only be found on and adjacent to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. There are only about 200 individuals remaining.
  • During mating, sandhill cranes perform dancing displays. The dancing involves wing flapping, bowing, jumps and simply play.
  • The Sandhill Crane has one of the longest fossil histories of any existing bird.

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Quick Facts

Scientific Name

Grus canadensis pulla


Animalia, Chordata, Aves, Gruiformes, Gruidae, Grus


3 to 4 feet tall with a wingspan of over 7 feet wide


Adults are gray overall with a red crown


The sexes look the same


20 years in the wild

Conservation Status

Critically Endangered

Where to See

In the Wild

Mailing address: Audubon Nature Institute 6500 Magazine St. New Orleans, LA 70118
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