The sandhill crane occupies a variety of open habitats, occurring largely in freshwater wetlands such as bogs, sedge meadows and fens, as well as grasslands, pine savanna and cultivated areas.
Cranes build their nests in developing vegetation in shallow water or close to water. Both parents work together building the nest, a mound of plant material which is secured to the surrounding vegetation. Both parents incubate the two eggs. The young leave the nest within a day of hatching and follow their parents out into the marsh. Chicks remain with their parents for their first nine to ten months.
The sandhill crane is a monogamous species and is noted for its elaborate courtship displays. Experts have identified five steps in their pairing dance routine:
- Upright wing stretch
- Horizontal head pump
- Vertical leap
- Vertical toss
There are also courtship displays that are used exclusively by paired adults to maintain the pair bond and synchronize reproductive development. These are the Bill up, Copulation and the Unison call display.
The oldest Sandhill Crane on record was at least 36 years, 7 months old. Originally banded in Wyoming in 1973, it was found in New Mexico in 2010.
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl