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Grus canadensis, Sandhill Crane
DigiMorph Staff - The University of Texas at Austin
Grus canadensis
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Texas Memorial Museum (uncatalogued)

Image processing: Dr. Amy Balanoff
Publication Date: 19 Jul 2004


The sandhill crane, Grus canadensis, although spread widely across much of North America, is best known perhaps for its migration. Each year over 80% of the world’s population of G. canadensis gathers at the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska. This staging event is a popular birdwatching event. The range of the sandhill crane, however, extends far beyond Nebraska; breeding colonies are found in the northern half of North America (north to Alaska and throughout Canada to southern Michigan). A few breeding colonies also are found in the northwestern and western United States. Wintering populations range through Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, and a few smaller winter colonies are located in southern California, Louisiana, and Florida. Sandhill cranes are only year round residents in the southeastern United States and parts of Cuba (Tacha et al., 1992).

About the Species

The most striking features of this specimen of Grus canadensis are the ossified tendons that run from the posterior end of the lower mandible to the quadrate/squamosal region of the cranium (highlighted in red). Ossification is also present within the tendons along the cervical vertebrae.


This specimen was made available to the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning by Dr. Timothy Rowe of the Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin. Funding for scanning was provided by a National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative grant to Dr. Rowe.

About this Specimen

The specimen was scanned by Matthew Colbert on 6 February 2004 along the coronal axis for a total of 975 slices, each slice 0.166 mm thick with an interslice spacing of 0.166 mm and a field of reconstruction of 77.5 mm. This specimen was scanned in two passes, with and without a base. The slices from the first pass were aligned in Photoshop by Rachel Racicot to align with those from the second pass.

About the


Baumel, J. J., A. S. King, J. E. Breazile, H. E. Evans, and J. C. Vanden Berge (eds.). 1993. Handbook of Avian Anatomy: Nomina Anatomica Avium, Second Edition. Publication of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, number 23. Nuttall Ornithological Club, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 779 pp.

Livezey, B. C. 1998. A phylogenetic analysis of the Gruiformes (Aves) based on morphological characters, with an emphasis on the rails (Rallidae). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences, 353:2077-2151.

Livezey, B. C., and R. Zusi. 2001. Higher-order phylogenetics of modern aves based on comparative anatomy. Netherlands Journal of Zoology 51:179-205.

Mayr, G., and J. Clarke. 2003. The deep divergences of neornithine birds: a phylogenetic analysis of morphological characters. Cladistics 19:527-553.

Mitchell, P. C. 1901. On the anatomy of gruiform birds; with special reference to the correlation of modifications. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1901:629-655.

Tacha, T. C., S. A. Nesbitt, and P. A. Vohs. 1992. Sandhill crane. The Birds of North America 31:1-24.

Wetmore, A. 1960. A classification for the birds of the world. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 139:1-37.


Information and images of the sandhill crane on USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter

& Links

To cite this page: DigiMorph Staff, 2004, "Grus canadensis" (On-line), Digital Morphology. Accessed July 21, 2024 at http://digimorph.org/specimens/Grus_canadensis/.

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