Crane ID: Will You Know a Whooper?

Whooping crane #107 among Sandhill cranes
Photo Operation Migration

What do you know about the size, color, flight posture, and wing beats of cranes? Let's find out!

Whoopers or Sandhills: What's the Difference?

North America is home to two crane species: the Sandhill crane and the Whooping crane.

Whooping cranes (Grus americana) are larger than Sandhills and mostly pure, dazzling white. AT five feet tall, they are the tallest birds in North America. The difference in the two species is obvious when they are next to each other. This endangered species is known for their loud whooping calls. More

Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) are grey to reddish-brown in color but smaller than whoopers. They are four feet tall with a six-foot wingspan. Like whoopers, they have a patch of red skin on top of the head. They nest in wetlands and feed in wetlands and uplands. Sandhills are a migratory species. Not endangered, they are found throughout much of the United States and Canada and parts of Siberia and Cuba. They have a raspy call that has been compared to rusty hinges!

Try This!
  • Compare Sandhill cranes, Whooping cranes and Canada Geese with a chart and questions found at the end of our Flight Formation lesson.
  • Make a Venn Diagram to record the similarities and differences between Sandhill cranes and Whooping cranes.
Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).