There are about 700,000 sandhill cranes in North America. However, only slightly more that one hundred of these birds belong to the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane subspecies. These birds can only be seen at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge located in Jackson County.
Sandhill cranes used to be very common along the Gulf coastal plain stretching from southern Louisiana, into Mississippi, Alabama, and western Florida. However, the birds lost their habitat due to agriculture. In the mid-20th century, there were just 30 birds left on earth. Due to the creation of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, it became possible to increase their number. Sandhill cranes are monogamous, meaning they mate for life, and live up to 30 years.
The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge has a flat prairie-like landscape which is preferred by cranes. The wet pine savanna ecosystem is home not just to sandhill cranes, but also to songbirds and waterfowl species.