International Crane Foundation

 

Eastern Sandhill Crane Banding Programs

Have you seen a banded Sandhill Crane and would like to find out where and who banded the crane? Cranes are banded with color markers (also known as auxiliary bands) and aluminum bands throughout North America. This page focuses on banding protocols for the Eastern Population of Greater Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis tabida), which are found east of the Mississippi River in the United States.

Did you observe a banded Sandhill Crane in the western United States or Canada? Don’t worry, you can report it to the International Crane Foundation as well, and we will forward your sighting to the appropriate organization. If you have a bird in hand and can read the eight-digit number on the aluminum band, you also can report it to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory.

Report a banded Sandhill Crane

Marz cropped

International Crane Foundation, southcentral Wisconsin
Coordinator: Andy Gossens

There is a 3″ band above the tarsal joint on either the left or right leg (either green with white engraved numbers, blue with white engraved numbers or yellow with black engraved numbers). The opposite leg above the tarsal joint has a combination of 1″ color bands (red, green, white, blue or yellow). The aluminum band is either in the color combination opposite the leg with the 3″ band or below the tarsal joint on either leg.

In addition, the International Crane Foundation is banding cranes in the upper Midwest and the northeastern United States to study gene dispersal and has deployed the following five banding schemes:

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Southcentral Ontario

There is a 3″ orange band with black numbers on one leg and three 1″ color bands (red, green, white, blue or yellow) on the other leg. The aluminum band is below the tarsal joint.

UP MI

Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Peninsula, Michigan

There is a 3″ light blue band with white numbers on one leg and three 1″ color bands (red, green, white, blue, or yellow) on the other leg. The aluminum band is below the tarsal joint.

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Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin

There is a 3″ red band with white numbers on one leg and one or two 1″ color bands (red, green, white, blue or yellow) on the other leg. The aluminum band is located above the tarsal joint with the 1″ color bands.

Southern MI credit

Southern Michigan

There is a 3” white band with black numbers on one leg and three 1″ color bands (red, green, white, blue or yellow) on the other leg. The aluminum band is below the tarsal joint.

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Pennsylvania and New York

There is a 3″ white band with red letters on top and numbers on the bottom with a thin line in between on one leg and three 1″ color bands (red, green, white, blue or yellow) on the other leg. The aluminum band is below the tarsal joint.

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East central Wisconsin
Coordinator: Pat Fisher

There is a 3″ purple band with off-white numbers on one leg above the tarsal joint. The aluminum band is located on the opposite leg above the tarsal joint.

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Long Point, Ontario
Coordinator: Scott Petrie

There is a 3″ plain white band (no alpha or numeric code) with flanges for riveting the two halves together and a radio transmitter attached. The aluminum band is located below the tarsal joint.

Northern OH crop credit

Northern Ohio
Coordinator: Dave Sherman

There is a 3” white band with a black alpha-numeric code (from Z01 to Z25) with flanges for riveting the two halves together and a radio transmitter attached. The aluminum band is located above the tarsal joint on the leg opposite the 3″ band.

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Northern Illinois
Coordinator: Brad Semel

There are three 1” green bands with white letters on the right leg above the tarsal joint, and two 1” color bands (white, yellow, orange, red, blue, light blue or green) on the left leg with an aluminum band, also above the tarsal joint.

RUseney

Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Coordinator: Richard Urbanek

The bands are various combinations of red, green and white 1″ color bands on the left leg above the tarsal joint and the right leg above the tarsal joint. The aluminum band is always below the tarsal joint.

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Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, central Wisconsin
Coordinator: Richard Urbanek

These were used only during 2000 for an experimental project leading birds with an ultralight airplane. There is a 1.5″ red band over a 1.5″ green band with a radio transmitter attached above the tarsal joint on one leg. There is a combination of red, green and white 1″ color bands on the opposite leg. The aluminum band is below the tarsal joint on the leg with the 1.5″ red and green color bands.

Report a Banded Crane

Tennessee
Coordinator: Dave Fronczak

A 3″ black band with white lettering is above the tarsal joint, and the alpha-numeric code, read top to bottom, has a number (from 0 to 9) over a letter (A, C, E, J or K). The band has flanges for riveting the two halves together and a radio transmitter is attached. An aluminum band is below the tarsal joint on the opposite leg.

JoeMcGowan_cropped

Central Louisiana
Coordinator: Sammy King

2002 – There is a 3″ white band engraved with a black alpha-numeric code (from E01 to E05) above the tarsal joint. The band is riveted together and has flanges on either side of an otherwise round band. On the opposite leg above the tarsal joint is a 3″ yellow band with a black satellite transmitter attached. The aluminum band is below the tarsal joint on the same leg as the 3″ white band.

2006/2007 – Above the tarsal joint on one leg, there is a 3” white band, an alpha-numeric code (from E12 to E31) and a black satellite transmitter attached to the band. The band is riveted together and has flanges on either side of an otherwise round band. On the other leg, there is a 3” red band above the tarsal joint, with an alpha-numeric code (from A09 to A20). The aluminum band is below the tarsal joint on the same leg as the 3″ white band.

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Auxiliary Banding Protocols for Operation Migration, eastern Canada and the eastern US

There is a yellow 3″ band with black numbers above the tarsal joint on either leg. A radio is attached to the side opposite of the numbers. The band is riveted together and has flanges on either side of an otherwise round band. The aluminum band is above the tarsal joint on the opposite leg.

NesbitFLA120

Central Florida, Auxiliary Banding Protocols for the Florida Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pratensis)
Coordinator: Steve Nesbitt

Cranes were banded on either or both legs, above and/or below the tarsal joint. Bands used were in five colors (blue, green, red, white and yellow) and could be used in multiple combinations in conjunction with the aluminum band (pictured here between the two white bands on the upper portion of the left leg).

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Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, Auxiliary Banding Protocols for the Mississippi Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pulla)
Coordinator: Scott Hereford

There have been three basic schemes used for free-flying Mississippi Sandhill Cranes  hatched in captivity:

1999–present: There are two 1″ or 1.5″ color bands [blue (light, royal), green (pea, dark), orange, red, white or yellow; a few are gray] above tarsal joint on one leg, and a 2″ or 3″ color band with attached radio on the other leg above the tarsal joint. The transmitter band consists of two halves that are riveted together. Transmitter band colors may be royal blue, dark green, orange, red, white or yellow. A few are black. Cranes in the same release cohort have the same color transmitter band and the same above-hock 1″ color band on the other leg. The aluminum lock-on band is below the tarsal joint on the same leg as the transmitter band.

1996–1998: 3″ transmitter band with 3-digit number read top to bottom on one leg above tarsal, two 1.5″ color bands on the other leg above tarsal.

1981–1995: 3″ band with 3-digit number read top to bottom on one leg above tarsal joint and a 3″ transmitter band on the other leg above the tarsal joint, with the aluminum band below the tarsal joint.

For cranes hatched in the wild, the aluminum band and a 1″ color band are on one leg above the tarsal joint, and two 1″ color bands or a 2″ transmitter band are on the other leg above the tarsal. No bands were placed below the tarsal on wild-hatched birds.

JeffDimatteo

Northwestern and west central Minnesota
Coordinator: Jeff DiMatteo

There is a colored 3/4″ band above the aluminum band with a 2″ x 4″ green tag (engraved with white letters) attached above the tarsal joint on the left leg, and a 3/4″ colored band above a 2″ tall green band (engraved with white letters) on the right leg above the tarsal joint. The color combination of the two short bands is coded to correspond with the number on the tag and tall band. The code used on this series of bands and tags is “M##.” (Note: These birds may winter in the southeastern US or in Texas.)