Sandhill Cranes are one of the most magnificent species of birds in North America.
Growing up to 4-feet tall and reaching weights of up to 15-pounds, cranes have powerful long legs and a long spearlike beak. Mostly gray in color, the birds are most aesthetically recognized by their vibrant red and white crown feathers.
Though similar in appearance to a heron, cranes are larger bodied birds and mostly forage for grains and invertebrates in prairies, grasslands, and marshes as opposed to hunting for fish in the water likeherons… andTim McGraw.
Sandhill Cranes form extremely large flocks of up to the tens of thousands while on their wintering grounds and during migration. They often migrate at extreme altitudes and they are most recognizable by their distinctive vocalizations.
A flock of Sandhill Cranes sounds more like a pack of velociraptors or a fierce gang of turkeys than a typical bird song.
Turn volume on for this video. 🔊 One of the trail cameras at the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming caught this sandhill crane sounding off. Sandhill cranes have long windpipes that help create their deep, trumpeting call. Video: Sandhill crane calling by USFWS pic.twitter.com/s50p8EdvFU
One particular ole gobbler down in Florida found out the hard way just how tough big old cranes are though.
This video was taken in April near Sarasota Florida. A bird watcher was looking for a family of cranes to photograph when he witnessed the wild turkey fluff out its feathers and charge the infant crane.
Soon afterwards, a good old fashioned wild bird fight ensues all while the camera was running. The first crane holds its own and eventually there are two cranes mixing it up with the turkey in defense of the baby bird. The turkey ultimately backs off.
With a huge wingspan and strong instincts, the cranes are more than capable of defending themselves and their off spring against the turkey.
Not only can Sandhill Cranes beat up turkeys though, they also taste better than them.
Sandhill Crane hunting is an increasingly popular activity, and the birds have even been nicknamed the “Ribeye of the Sky” thanks to the steak like quality of their meat. Most people sear it on the outside and eat it medium-rare like a fillet.
The birds are still protected in most states, and where it is legal the season is typically very brief and the number of permits issued is highly limited. But for those lucky enough to draw a tag, the experience is something they never forget.
For those that have yet to go crane hunting, add it your bucket list and watch this awesome crane hunting footage from Tony Vandemore and Habitat Flats.