Mated pair of Sandhill Cranes in flightMated pair of Sandhill Cranes in flight – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Yesterday I wrote about the split in scrub-jay species and how the Western Scrub-Jays I photograph here in Utah are now Woodhouse’s Scrub Jays, not only did their common name change but their scientific name changed as well.

Another change that has officially occurred was that Sandhill Cranes were moved from the genus Grus to Antigone in the Fifty-seventh Supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American Birds. Whooping and Common Cranes remain in the genus Grus.

Male Sandhill Crane in a wet meadowMale Sandhill Crane in a wet meadow – Nikon D810, f13, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Whenever there are changes in common or scientific names it always takes me a bit to get used to the changes so this is another change I will pencil into my field guides. It won’t take long for the authors of the birding apps I use to make the updates and push those changes to my devices.

Changes in the scientific names probably don’t mean much for most people but for many in the birding and bird photography communities knowing the genus and species name is important for life lists and labeling in portfolios. And that goes for subspecies as well.

I’m just glad the common name didn’t change.

Life is good.


The first image presented here was taken in Wayne County, Utah in 2014 and the second was taken in Beaverhead County, Montana in 2015.


  1. Mia McPherson July 10, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks for all of your comments. Sandhill Cranes are among my favorites birds, I absolutely love hearing them and seeing them in flight.

  2. Danny Lynch July 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Love your photos, and your attention to nomenclature updates. Danny Lynch

  3. Utahbooklover July 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Wonderful images. Thanks again for the technical updates.

  4. Myriam July 9, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos. The one of the two cranes in flight is spectacular! And thanks for passing on the information that the Sandhill Crane genus changed. I saw a lot of Sandhill Cranes at the Bird Sanctuary south of Vancouver, British Columbia last summer.

  5. Elephant's Child July 9, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Beautiful, elegant, graceful. Whatever they are called.

  6. April Olson July 9, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Beautiful photos. I would love to find a group of cranes close to an observation area where I could just sit and watch their mating displays. When I see them they are a long ways away and I get tired of holding binoculars to my head to observe.

  7. Marie Read July 9, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Linda Laugen: the nearly extinct one was Whooping Crane.

  8. Marie Read July 9, 2016 at 9:38 am

    It’s a more interesting latin name anyway! More evocative than “Grus”.
    Yeah, glad you’re keeping up with these changes.

  9. Linda Laugen July 9, 2016 at 9:25 am

    PS – I’m with Patty 105% re: the first shot – how does a still capture so much movement and momentum? MM, you are “somethin’ else!” Linda Laugen

  10. Linda Laugen July 9, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I never DID know what these birds looked like – THANK YOU! Were these not nearly extinct at some point?

    Best –
    Learning As I Go

  11. Patty Chadwick July 9, 2016 at 8:47 am

    That first shot is artisically AMAZING!!! A real classic!!!….these are such beautiful, elegant birds…thrilling to see in the wild….

  12. Carol July 9, 2016 at 8:10 am

    What beautiful graceful birds. I love seeing the birds in flight. Gorgeous photos

  13. Bob McPherson July 9, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Beautiful images, Mia. Good to know someone is keeping up scientifically.

Comments are closed.