Sandhill Cranes (“Greater” and “Lesser”)

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When Cricket and I were in Lodi for the holiday, we made a point of visiting the nearby Sandhill Crane preserve on Woodbridge Road. We also visited Staten Island Road where we were treated to both of our California subspecies of the Sandhill. We found it interesting how the two populations tended to segregate themselves, but were also not opposed to mixing on occasion. We found several groups that contained both the abundant “Lesser” and the less numerous “Greater” Sandhill Cranes. The smaller “Lesser” breeds in Alaska, while the larger “Greater” breeds in southern Canada and even in portions of California. I had always worried that I would not be able to tell the two apart, but when seen together the differences in their head shape, bill length and overall size were obvious. We also found that the “Lessers” tended to be more warmly colored with much rusty brown, while the “Greaters” were cleaner cold gray. This quick portrait attempts to illustrate those differences.

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