The Brandywine Zoo has a sandhill crane named Sandy, who came to live at the zoo in 2007. Sandy was found on the ground near Messalonskee Lake in Maine in July 2007 as an early fledgling. Due to needs for continued treatment for foot swelling issues (and his imprinting on humans), Sandy was unable to be released and missed out on learning how to migrate in his first year. He was transferred from the rehabber in Maine to Tri-State Bird Rescue and later came to Brandywine Zoo.


Some migratory populations of sandhill cranes face population threats due to interspecies competition with snow geese. Preservation of their stop-over feeding grounds in the Sandhills of Nebraska is critical to their survival.

Fun Facts

The common name of this bird refers to habitat such as the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska’s Sandhills on the American Plains. This is the most important stopover area for up to 450,000 cranes migrating through annually.

Sandhill cranes defend themselves by jumping and kicking.

Sandhill Crane chicks are also called “colts.”

Cranes are the tallest flying birds. The sarus crane, an Asian crane species related to sandhill cranes, is the tallest of this group.

Sandhill cranes can fly 25 – 35 mph; they typically travel 200 – 300 miles in a day while migrating, but can reach 500 miles with a good tail wind.

They can reduce the amount of blood in their legs and feet by constricting blood vessels. This allows the cranes to stand in freezing water for hours!