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Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)

Sandhills are a tall, long legged, long necked gray bird with red featherless foreheads. They feed on frogs, fish, and insects, but also take much plant food such as seeds, fruits, and aquatic vegetation. They are often seen feeding in corn and upland grain fields. In Michigan, sandhills nest in solitary nests on the ground near or over shallow water in marshes and bogs. They nest by heaping plant debris into a low mound. Two eggs are laid; the young follow the parents soon after hatching, fly in about 70 days, and stay with the parents for nearly a year. Sandhill cranes are intolerant of human disturbance. Their numbers were much reduced by habitat loss and shooting in the early part of this century but have grown in recent decades. A two year survey funded by the Nongame Wildlife Fund confirmed 805 breeding pair statewide. Most breeding pairs in the Lower Peninsula were found in a six county area near Jackson and Ann Arbor. Highest concentrations in the Upper Peninsula occurred in the eastern counties.