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Adult is gray overall; during breeding, the plumage is usually much worn and stained, particular in the migratory populations, and looks nearly ochre. The average weight of the larger male is 4.57 kg (10.1 lb), while the average weight of females is 4.02 kg (8.9 lb), with a range of 2.7 to 6.7 kg (6.0 to 15 lb) across the subspecies. The Sandhill Crane has a red forehead, white cheeks and a long dark pointed bill. Its long dark legs trail behind in flight, and the long neck is kept straight in flight. Immature birds have reddish brown upperparts and gray underparts. The sexes look alike. Size varies among the different subspecies. Additionally the average height of these birds is around 80 to 120 cm (2.6 to 3.9 ft). The standard linear measurements of the Sandhill are: the wing chord measures 41.8–60 cm (16.5–24 in), the tail is 10–26.4 cm (3.9–10.4 in), the exposed culmen is 6.9–16 cm (2.7–6.3 in) long and the tarsus measures 15.5–26.6 cm (6.1–10.5 in).
The Florida Sandhill Crane is far less common, with some 5,000 individuals remaining. They are most threatened by habitat destruction and probably depend on human management in the long run. In Florida, it is protected, and if killed, carries a very high monetary penalty. This subspecies is under protection of state and federal law at this time. Since the loss of habitat is a somewhat controllable cause of a declining population, habitat preservation is a valuable management measure. The current outlook for the Florida sandhill crane, if it can be maintained on the protected habitats, is good. Transplanting wild birds, as well as introducing captive-reared birds into suitable areas where crane numbers are low, appears to be a viable technique in the management of this threatened species. It is hoped that these management strategies, plus continued ecological research, will prevent the Florida sandhill crane from reaching a more critical status.