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There are six recognized subspecies of Sandhill Cranes. Of these, half are migratory. The migratory cranes travel long distances, using routes learned from adults. During this migration they congregate at major stopover spots. The subspecies of Sandhill Crane seen in Washington are migratory. Most of the cranes that breed in Washington are members of the Central Valley population of the Greater Sandhill Crane subspecies, and they winter in the Central Valley of California. Members of the other two migratory subspecies, Lesser Sandhill Crane and Canadian Sandhill Crane, breed to our north and only migrate through Washington. Breeding Sandhill Cranes arrive at their nesting grounds in early March and leave for California between late September and mid-October.
Spotted at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and nearby agricultural fields in southwest Washington are regular wintering spots. Sandhill Cranes live in wet meadows and grasslands, and they feed in grain fields and pastures. In Washington, they nest in wetlands in areas that are surrounded by Lodgepole Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Grand Fir, or Douglas Fir forests. Emergent vegetation is a key component of their preferred nesting areas. During migration and in winter they live in more open prairie, agricultural fields, and river valleys. Sandhill Cranes prefer to live in habitats where they have clear views of their surroundings.
Lat: 45.80, Long: -122.76
Spotted on Nov 10, 2018
Submitted on Nov 13, 2018