The Return of Sandhill Cranes

After being reduced to three or four nesting pairs in all of California in 1944, Sandhill Cranes have come back from the brink and are returning to Lake Tahoe.

PUBLISHED MAR 31, 2024 11:03 A.M.
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A magnificent Sandhill Crane in flight.

A magnificent Sandhill Crane in flight.   Frank Schulenburg   CC BY-SA 4.0

Known for their distinctive trumpeting calls and graceful mating dances, these large birds, which stand four to five feet tall, were almost completely wiped out in California by 1944.

Granted full protected status by California in 1970, Sandhill Cranes staged a comeback. Having historically wintered primarily in the Central Valley, their populations rebounded over the next quarter century, and in 2000 an estimated 465 pairs were breeding in California. Now, migrating pairs are returning to Lake Tahoe for the first time in 150 years to nest and breed over the summer.

Learn more about the Tahoe comeback in this Tahoe Daily Tribune article.

Enjoy this Audubon Society article about this amazing bird.

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