Among Sandhill Crane subspecies, there are Lesser and Greater — with Lesser approximately three feet in height, and Greater reaching five feet. Other subspecies including the Mississippi and Cuban Sandhill Cranes are critically endangered.
Cranes are family oriented and bonded, as this bit from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes:
“Sandhill Cranes have close and durable pair bonds and family relationships. Pairs remain bonded and monogamous for periods of multiple years. Mother, father, and young stay together from the time of hatching into the following March, a period of nine to ten months. During this time, first-year birds feed on their own, but depend on their parents’ locating food and providing protection from predators and other territorially aggressive Sandhill Cranes.”
These magnificent birds are a sight to be appreciated in our day, their populations nearly wiped out by hunting and development earlier in the century. Over-hunting and development are still critical concerns for crane survival, according to the International Crane Foundation. A recent 10,000 Birds blog post led me to an article in Physorg.com which further breaks down the genetic diversity of these birds, and discusses how human threats could be a significant factor in depleting these important sub-populations.