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Cranes - Gruidae

Sandhill Crane
Photo: Andrea Westmoreland

Cranes are a family, Gruidae, of large, long-legged and long-necked birds in the order Gruiformes. There are fifteen species of crane in four
genera. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Cranes live on all continents except
Antarctica and South America.

Most species of cranes are at the least classified as threatened, if not critically endangered, within their range. The plight of the Whooping Cranes
of North America inspired some of the first US legislation to protect endangered species.

They are opportunistic feeders that change their diet according to the season and their own nutrient requirements. They eat a range of items from
suitably sized small rodents, fish, amphibians, and insects, to grain, rice, berries, and plants.

Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". While folklore often states that cranes mate for life, recent scientific research
indicates that these birds do change mates over the course of their lifetimes, which may last several decades.

Cranes construct platform nests in shallow water, and typically lay two eggs at a time. Both parents help to rear the young, which remain with
them until the next breeding season.

Some species and populations of cranes migrate over long distances; (See the Demoiselle Cranes fantastic journey across Himalaya here),
others do not migrate at all. Cranes are solitary during the breeding season, occurring in pairs, but during the non-breeding season they are
gregarious, forming large flocks where their numbers are sufficient.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crane_(bird)

English Norsk Latin
Blue Crane Blåtrane Anthropoides paradiseus
Demoiselle Crane Jomfrutrane Anthropoides virgo
Black Crowned-Crane Svartkrontrane Balearica pavonina
Gray Crowned-Crane Gråkrontrane Balearica regulorum
Wattled Crane Vortetrane Bugeranus carunculatus
Whooping Crane Trompetertrane Grus americana
Sarus Crane Sarustrane Grus antigone
Sandhill Crane Kanadatrane Grus canadensis
Common Crane Trane Grus grus
Red-crowned Crane Japantrane Grus japonensis
Siberian Crane Snøtrane Grus leucogeranus
Hooded Crane Hvithodetrane Grus monacha
Black-necked Crane Svarthalstrane Grus nigricollis
Brolga Brolgatrane Grus rubicunda
White-naped Crane Hvitnakketrane Grus vipio

Common Crane, Grus grus
The forehead and lores are black, bare red crown.
The chin, throat, and anterior part of the neck are
black to dark gray. The nape is slate gray. A white
stripe stretches behind the eyes to the upper back.

Grey Crowned Crane
Photo: Aaron Logan
The head is topped with a crown of stiff golden
Neck is grey.

Blue Crane
Photo: Brian Snelson

Body plumage is silvery bluish gray becoming
darker on the upper neck and the lower half of
the head and nape.

Brolga Crane
Body plumage is silvery bluish gray becoming
darker on the upper neck and the lower half of
the head and nape.

Wattled Crane
The skin in front of the eye extending to the base of
the beak and tip of the wattles is red and bare of
feathers and covered by small round wart-like bumps.

Sibirian Crane
Face, and sides of the head are bare of feathers
and brick-red in color. Eye color is reddish or
pale yellow

Sarus Crane
The crown is covered with smooth greenish skin.
The rest of the head, throat, and the upper neck
are covered with rough orange/red skin. The ear
is marked by a small area of grayish white feathers
on each side of the face.

Black-necked Crane
Bare red crowns. Lores between eye and bill are
sparsely covered by black hairlike feathers. The rest
of the head and the upper part of the neck are black,
except for a small white or light gray spot extending
backward from the rear and lower edges of each eye.

Demoiselle Crane
Photo: David Slack
No red and white on head.
A long, pure white feather plume stretches from
behind the eye to well beyond the head.

Whooping Crane
Red patch on forehead, black mustache

White-naped Crane
Dark gray and white striped neck.
Red around the yellow eyes.

Black-crowned Crane
The head is topped with a crown of stiff golden
Neck is black.

Red-crowned Crane
Forehead and crown are covered with bare red skin,
and a large white band extends from behind the eyes
and meets sharply with the black lower neck.

Sandhill Crane
The forehead and crown are covered with reddish
skin. Face, chin, upper throat, and nape are white
to pale gray. Adults have a white cheek patch.

Hooded Crane
The top of the neck and head is white, except for
a patch of bare red skin above the eye.

Brolga, Grus rubicunda

The Brolga, Grus rubicunda, formerly known as the "Native Companion", is a bird in the crane family. The bird has also been
given the name "Australian Crane", a term coined in 1865 by well-known ornithological artist John Gould in his Birds of Australia.

The Brolga is a common gregarious wetland bird species in tropical and eastern Australia, well known for its intricate mating dance.
It is the official bird emblem of the state of Queensland.

The full-grown Brolga is a tall, mid-grey to silver-grey crane, 0.7–1.3 m high, with a wingspan of 1.7–2.4 m, and a broad red band
extending from the straight, bone-coloured bill around the back of the head. Juveniles lack the red band. Adult males average at a
little under 7 kg, females a little under 6 kg. The weight can range from 3.7 to 8.7 kg.

The Brolga can easily be confused with the Sarus Crane, however the latter's red head colouring extends partly down the neck
while the Brolga's is confined to the head. Additionally, in Australia the range of the Sarus is limited to a few scattered localities
in northern Australia, compared to the more widespread distribution of the Brolga.

Brolgas are widespread and often abundant in north and north-east Australia, especially north-east Queensland, and are common
as far south as Victoria. They are also found in southern New Guinea and as rare vagrants in New Zealand and the northern part
of Western Australia. The population is estimated at between 20,000 and 100,000. The International Crane Foundation began a
captive breeding population with three pairs of wild Brolga that were captured in 1972. Brolga are non-migratory but do move in
response to seasonal rains.

Brolgas are gregarious creatures; the basic social unit is a pair or small family group of about 3 or 4 birds, usually parents together
with juvenile offspring, though some such groups are nonfamilial. In the non-breeding season, they gather into large flocks, which
appear to be many self-contained individual groups rather than a single social unit. Within the flock, families tend to remain separate
and to coordinate their activities with one another rather than with the flock as a whole.

Brolga are omnivorous and eat a variety of wetland plants, insects, and amphibians. They also eat wetland and upland plants,
seeds, mollusks, and crustaceans. Northern Australian populations of Brolga are fond of the tubers of the bulkuru sedge which
they dig holes to extract but this is not available south of Brisbane.

Brolgas are well known for their intricate mating dances. The dance begins with a bird picking up some grass and tossing it into
the air, catching it in its bill, then progresses to jumping a metre into the air with outstretched wings, then stretching, bowing,
walking, calling, and bobbing its head. Sometimes just one Brolga dances for its mate; often they dance in pairs; and sometimes
a whole group of about a dozen dance together, lining up roughly opposite each other before starting.
Source: Wikipedia

White-naped Crane, Grus vipio

The White-naped Crane, Grus vipio, is a bird of the crane family. It is a large bird, 112–125 cm long, approximately 130 cm
tall and weighing about 5.6 kg with pinkish legs, grey and white striped neck, and a red face patch.

The White-naped Crane breeds in northeastern Mongolia, northeastern China, and adjacent areas of southeastern Russia where
a program at Khinganski Nature Reserve raises eggs provided from U.S. zoos to bolster the species. Different groups of the birds
migrate to winter near the Yangtze River, the DMZ in Korea and on Kyushu in Japan. They also reach Kazakhstan and Taiwan.
Only about 4,900 and 5,400 individuals remain in the wild.

Its diet consists mainly of insects, seeds, roots, plants and small animals.

Due to ongoing habitat loss and overhunting in some areas, the White-naped Crane is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The loss of wetlands to agricultural expansion, especially in its breeding grounds, is the main threat. Between 2000 and 2007,
wetland loss in the western (Daurian) part of the range has been greatly exacerbated by prolonged drought conditions.
This drought is part of a climatic cycle, and is predicted to persist until 20154. Breeding birds are also threatened by steppe fires,
whilst livestock grazing may cause disturbance and reduce the availability of suitable nesting habitat1. In its wintering grounds,
the main threats are from development and increasing human disturbance of wetlands in the Yangtze basin, the effects of the
Three Gorges Dam on wetlands in the Yangtze basin and the potential development of wetlands in the Demilitarised Zone.
In China, many wintering flocks occur outside of existing reserves, and are consequently at risk from hunting, direct disturbance,
pollution from pesticide use and further loss of habitat due to agricultural expansion2. At Chaewon, Korea, a switch from spring
to autumn ploughing of rice paddies resulted in reduced foraging rates, potentially affecting overwinter survival3. In Japan, the
high proportion of individuals wintering at a single site at Izumi may render the population at greater risk from stochastic
events or disease.
BirdLife International 2008. Grus vipio. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Downloaded on 08 April 2012

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