North American Crane Working Group


Date of this Version


Document Type



Nesbitt, Stephen A., and Thomas C. Tacha. Monogamy and productivity in sandhill cranes. In: Urbanek RP, Stahlecker DW, eds. 1997. Proceedings of the Seventh North American Crane Workshop, 1996 Jan 10-13, Biloxi, Mississippi. Grand Island, NE: North American Crane Working Group. pp. 10-13.


Used by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


Marked pairs of Florida (Grus canadensis pratensis) and greater sandhill cranes (G. c. tabida) were monitored for 426 pair-years. Among pair members, females averaged 3.7 ± 3.6 (SD) years older than males. Pair longevity was not correlated with pair productivity (P ~ 0.279) for pairs that were together >3 years. Forty-four percent of 72 Florida sandhill crane pair bonds were broken during the study, 67.7% due to death and 32.3 % to divorce. Among both Florida and greater sandhill cranes, the incidence of divorce was related to a failure to reproduce; 52.6% of pairs that failed to produce young divorced, while only 10% of pairs that divorced had a history of successful reproduction. The development of a monogamous mating strategy is tied to the need to secure and maintain exclusive territories in order to reproduce successfully.