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Lesser Sandhill Crane?

posted by Ryan O'Donnell at
on Sunday, March 27, 2011 

While out this afternoon, I photographed a Sandhill Crane in Benson, Cache County, Utah that was significantly smaller than its 20 or so companions. I've been under the impression that the only subspecies of Sandhill Crane expected in Utah is Greater (Grus canadensis tabida). This one looked to me like a Lesser Sandhill Crane (G. c. canadensis). However, I don't know whether I've ever seen the third migratory subspecies, Canadian Sandhill Cranes (G. c. rowani), which are intermediate in size between Greaters and Lessers. eBird is of little help here because apparently no Sandhill Crane records from Utah in eBird have been identified to subspecies. Does anyone know anything about subspecies of Sandhill Crane in Utah? Does this (left-most bird) look like a Lesser to you?

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Blogger Tim Avery said...

Very cool side-by-side. It is said that there is a large inter-breeding area between the two major subspecies leading to difficulties assigning ssp level ID especially during winter or migration.

That being said this is obviously not a typical Greater. I would venture that it isn't even within the extreme variation for the species. The size of the bill, along with the overall proportions of the bird would seem to point to this being a Lesser and not a Greater. That's my two cents. Who knows though.

March 27, 2011 at 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Wow, that Lesser looks half the size and I don't believe its a product of the photo. It looks like a perfect example, but I don't know the variation extent and am not an expert on this. But it really looks like one.

March 28, 2011 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Just My Take said...

It's always hard to get a perfect feel based on photos but the bird does like comparably tiny. A few years ago Eric Huish and I reported a crane band number and the bird had been banded somewhere in the midwest (I forget exactly where - you could ask Eric). The banders (Crane Foundation???) seemed pretty excited about the record. As I recall all the 4-5 birds in the group seemed small to me. Basically what I'm saying is you could ask Eric about that record haha.

March 29, 2011 at 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Utah Crane said...

The birds do look small.

July 4, 2011 at 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Frances said...

Let's save those cranes!

May 13, 2012 at 8:31 PM  

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