In Alabama during: Winter
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Grus canadensis
OTHER NAMES: sandies, cranes, Sunday turkey
STATUS: Historical breeder. Uncommon in winter and rare in spring and fall in Gulf Coast region. In other regions, uncommon to rare in winter, early spring, and fall, though can be locally common in Tennessee Valley, particularly at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Mississippi subspecies (G. c. pulla), which is the most likely to breed in Alabama, listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Low Conservation Concern.
DESCRIPTION: Standing three to four feet tall with a wingspan 6.5 – 7 feet, the sandhill crane is considered one of North America’s tallest birds. Mature birds are grey while immature are described as pinkish brown. Both mature and young birds sport a red cap beginning above the bill continuing beyond the eye to the crown of the skull.