Discover 2 Types of Cranes Birds in Michigan (2023)

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Michigan is home to a diverse range of crane species that inhabit both urban and natural environments.

From rare Whooping Cranes to the stunning sandhill cranes in the wetlands, these birds are an essential part of Michigan’s landscape.

In this blog post, we will discover the 2 types of crane birds in Michigan. All the information was collected from the Michigan Gov. Website.

Types of Cranes Birds in Michigan

There are only 2 types of cranes found in Michigan, including Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes.

Let’s explore their habitat, diet, location, the best time to see, etc.

1. Sandhill Cranes in Michigan

Sandhill Cranes in Michigan
Image: Sandhill Cranes in Michigan

Sandhill Cranes are relatively common in Michigan and can be found throughout the state.

They are large, grey birds with distinctive red crowns on their heads.

They can often be seen in fields and wetlands, where they feed on plants, insects, and small animals.

These beautiful large birds can grow up to 5 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 6 feet.

Diet Seeds, grains, insects,
small animals including snakes, frogs
Habitat Wetlands, marshes, bogs, agriculture areas,
roadsides, swamps, grassy areas near wetlands
Best places to seeBernard W.Baker Sanctuary
Haehnle Sanctuary
Kensington Metropark
Waterloo Recreation Area
table: Sandhill Cranes diet, habitat, best places to see

Related: White Birds in Michigan

Sandhill Crane Best Viewing Locations:

The best places to view cranes as large groups fly overhead are Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary, Haehnle Sanctuary, Kensington Metropark, and Waterloo Recreation Area.

Where to See Them in Michigan?

Sandhill cranes can be seen in many wetland areas in Michigan, including wildlife refuges and state parks.

Some good places to see them include the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, and the Allegan State Game Area.

Best Time to See:

According to Michigan Audubon, the best time to see them to prior 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m.

Sandhill cranes are migratory birds, so the best time to see them in Michigan is during the spring and fall when they are passing through on their way to and from their breeding grounds in the northern US and Canada.

They can also be seen in Michigan during the summer months when they are breeding and raising their young.

Behavior and Lifecycle

Sandhill Cranes in Michigan prefer to build their nests near wetlands or ponds. They create big nests from plants.

They do special dances and calls to find their partners. Both parents take care of the eggs and chicks, and it takes about two months for the chicks to grow up.

In the winter, they fly to warmer places and come back in the spring following specific routes.

Fun Facts:

  • Sandhill cranes are large grey birds with long necks and legs.
  • They are known for their distinctive calls, which can be heard from long distances.
  • Sandhill cranes mate for life and can live up to 20 years in the wild.
  • They eat a variety of foods, including seeds, grains, insects, and small animals like frogs and snakes.
  • They can often be seen foraging in fields and wetlands.

Related: Blue Birds in Michigan

2. Whooping Cranes in Michigan (Endangered Species)

Whooping Cranes in Michigan
Image: Whooping Cranes in Michigan

Whooping cranes are an endangered species of bird that can be found in Michigan during their migration between their breeding grounds in Canada and their wintering grounds in Texas.

Whooping Cranes Diet, Habitat and Size:

DietSmall animals like insects, fish, and small mammals, as well as plants and seeds
HabitatWetlands like marshes, swamps, and bogs
SizeOver 5.5 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 7 feet
table: Whooping Cranes info

They are tall, white birds with black wingtips and a bright red patch on their heads.

Where to See Them in Michigan?

The best places to see whooping cranes in Michigan are in the Upper Peninsula at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and the Hiawatha National Forest.

In Michigan, whooping cranes can sometimes be seen in the fall and spring.

Whooping cranes are one of the tallest birds in North America.

Behavior and Lifecycle

Whooping Cranes also like wetlands and grassy areas in Michigan to build their nests.

They make nests in shallow water from reeds and grass. They have fancy dances and calls to find a mate.

Both parents look after the eggs, and it takes some months for the chicks to be on their own.

Just like Sandhill Cranes, they migrate during the year, flying to different places in different seasons.

Related: Doves in Michigan

Cranes in Michigan: Threats and Conservation Efforts

Let’s delve into the threats faced by Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes in Michigan, as well as the vital conservation efforts aimed at protecting these magnificent birds.

1. Threats:

Habitat Loss: One of the primary threats to crane species in Michigan is habitat loss due to urban development, agriculture, and wetland drainage. As these birds rely on wetlands and grasslands for nesting and foraging, the destruction of these habitats significantly impacts their populations.

Pollution: Pollution, particularly water pollution from agricultural runoff and industrial activities, poses a threat to cranes. Contaminated water sources can harm their food supply and nesting areas.

Climate Change: Climate change is altering the landscapes cranes depend on. It can disrupt their migration patterns, affect the availability of suitable nesting sites, and impact the timing of food availability, making it challenging for cranes to adapt.

2. Conservation Efforts:

Habitat Restoration: Several organizations and agencies, including the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and local conservation groups, are actively engaged in wetland and grassland restoration projects. These efforts aim to create and protect suitable habitats for cranes and other wildlife.

Protected Areas: The establishment of protected areas and wildlife refuges, such as the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan, provides safe havens for cranes. These areas offer undisturbed nesting and foraging sites.

Education and Outreach: Conservation organizations like the International Crane Foundation and the Michigan Audubon Society conduct educational programs to raise awareness about crane conservation. These programs encourage responsible land use practices and support crane-friendly policies.

Research and Monitoring: Ongoing research helps scientists better understand crane populations and their needs. By tracking their movements and studying their behavior, researchers can develop targeted conservation strategies.

Policy Advocacy: Various governmental and non-governmental organizations advocate for policies that protect crane habitats and regulate activities that could harm them. They work to ensure that land-use planning and development take into account the needs of cranes and other wildlife.

Collaborative Initiatives: Nationally, organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborate with state agencies, non-profits, and international partners to coordinate efforts to protect cranes. The Whooping Crane Recovery Plan, for example, focuses on restoring this critically endangered species.

Climate Resilience: Efforts to address climate change and its impact on cranes include advocating for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting initiatives that help cranes adapt to changing environments.

People Also Ask:

You can find all the questions answered regarding “Cranes in Michigan” that people ask on Google. Here are the questions and answers:

1. Are cranes common in Michigan?

Sandhill cranes are relatively common in Michigan, particularly in wetland areas where they prefer to live. On the other hand, Whooping cranes are very rare in Michigan and are only seen during their migration in the fall and spring.

2. What birds in Michigan look like cranes?

There are a few birds in Michigan that resemble cranes, although they are not cranes. Here are a few examples: Great Blue Herons, Sandpipers, Egrets

3. What is the biggest crane in Michigan?

The biggest crane in Michigan is the Whooping crane. Whooping cranes are one of the tallest birds in North America, standing over five feet tall with a wingspan of up to seven feet.

4. Are whooping cranes in Michigan?

Yes, Whooping cranes are occasionally found in Michigan during their migration in the fall and spring. However, they are very rare in Michigan and are considered an endangered species.

5. Where do cranes in Michigan go in the winter?

The Sandhill cranes that live in Michigan typically migrate south to spend the winter in warmer climates, such as Florida, Texas, and Mexico. They generally leave Michigan in October or November and return in February or March.

6. Can you hunt cranes in Michigan?

No, it is illegal to hunt cranes in Michigan. Both Sandhill cranes and Whooping cranes are protected by state and federal laws.


In Conclusion, Michigan’s Cranes are very beautiful and rare. Michigan has two types of cranes, the Sandhill crane and the endangered Whooping crane. Sandhill cranes are found in many wetland areas in Michigan and are known for their unique calls.

Whooping cranes are much rarer and can sometimes be seen during their migration in the fall and spring. They are tall, white birds with distinctive calls and are one of the tallest birds in North America.

Conservation efforts are helping to protect the whooping crane population, but they are still endangered.

Sources: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Audubon

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