The Sarus Crane, Grus antigone, is
a large non-migratory crane found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent,
Southeast Asia and
Australia. The tallest of the flying birds, standing at a
height of up to 1.8 m, they are conspicuous and iconic species
wetlands. The Sarus Crane is easily distinguished from other
cranes in the region by the overall grey colour and the contrasting
red head and upper neck. They forage on marshes and shallow
wetlands for roots, tubers, insects, crustaceans and small
vertebrate prey. Like other cranes, they form long-lasting
pair-bonds and maintain territories within which they perform
and courtship displays that include loud trumpeting, leaps
and dance-like movements.
In India they are considered symbols of marital fidelity,
believed to mate for life and pine the loss of their mates
even to the point
of starving to death. The main breeding season is during the
rainy season, when the pair builds an enormous nest "island",
a circular platform of reeds and grasses nearly two metres
in diameter and high enough to stay above the shallow water
surrounding it. Sarus Crane numbers have declined greatly
in the last century and it has been estimated that the current
population is a tenth or less (perhaps 2.5%) of the numbers
that existed in the 1850s. The stronghold of the species is
where it is traditionally revered and lives in agricultural
lands in close proximity to humans. Elsewhere, the species
extirpated in many parts of its former range.
The adult Sarus Crane is very large with grey wings and body;
a bare red head and part of the upper neck; a greyish crown;
and a long greenish-grey pointed bill. In flight, the long
neck is held straight, unlike that of an heron, which folds
it back, and the
black wing tips can be seen; the crane's long pink legs trail
behind them. This bird has a grey ear covert patch, an orange-red
iris and a greenish-grey bill. Juveniles have a yellowish
base to the bill and the brown-grey head is fully feathered.
The sexes do not differ in plumage although males are on average
larger than females; male Sarus of the Indian population can
attain a maximum height of about 180 cm making them the world's
tallest extant flying bird. The weight of nominate race
individuals is 6.87.8 kg, while five adult sharpii averaged
8.4 kg. Across the distribution range, the weight can vary
from 5 to 12 kg
height typically from 115 to 167 cm and the wingspan from
220 to 250 cm. Birds from Australia tend to be smaller than
Crane Grus antigone at Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India
In Australia, the Sarus can easily be mistaken for the more
widespread Brolga. The Brolga has the red colouring confined
head and not extending into the neck.
Unlike many other cranes that make long migrations,
the Sarus Crane is largely non-migratory; it may however make
movements in response to rain or dry weather conditions. The
migratory population is in South-east Asia. Breeding
maintain territories that are defended from other cranes using
a large repertoire of calls and displays. Non-breeding birds
as flocks of various sizes that vary from 1430 birds.
In semi-arid areas, breeding pairs and successfully fledged
from territories in the dry season and join non-breeding flocks.
In areas with perennial water supply, like in the western
Uttar Pradesh, breeding pairs maintain perennial territories.
The largest known flocks are from the 29 km2 Keoladeo
National Park as many as 430 birds, and from
wetlands in Etawah
and Mainpuri districts in Uttar Pradesh, ranging from 245412
birds. Flocks of over 100 birds are also regularly reported
Gujarat and Australia. During the breeding season, breeding
pairs displace non-breeding birds from some wetland sites,
populations can appear to decline. Sarus Crane populations
in Keoladeo National Park have been noted to reduce from over
400 birds in summer to just 20 birds during the Monsoon.
Crane Grus antigone at Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India.
Photo: J.M.Garg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saus_Crane_I_IMG_8663.jpg
They roost in shallow water, where they may be safe from some
ground predators. Adult birds do not moult their feathers
and replace them only once every two or three years.
Sarus Cranes forage in shallow water (usually with less than
30 cm depth of water) or in fields, frequently probing in
mud with their
long bills. They are omnivorous, eating insects (especially
grasshoppers), aquatic plants, fish (perhaps only in captivity,
crustaceans and seeds. Occasionally tackling larger vertebrate
prey such as water snakes (Xenochrophis piscator), Sarus Cranes
may in rare cases feed on the eggs of birds and turtles.]
Plant matter eaten includes tubers, corms of aquatic plants,
as well as seeds and grains from cultivated crops such as
groundnuts and cereal crops such as rice.
There were about an estimated 1520,000 mature Sarus
Cranes left in the wild in 2009. Source:
Demoiselle Crane, Anthropoides virgo
crane, Anthropoides virgo Photo: Matthew Field, http://www.photography.mattfield.com
The Demoiselle Crane, Anthropoides virgo, is a species
of crane found in central Eurasia, ranging from the Black
Sea to Mongolia
and North Eastern China. There is also a small breeding population
in Turkey. These cranes are migratory
birds. Birds from
western Eurasia will spend the winter in Africa whilst the
birds from Asia, Mongolia and China will spend the winter
in the Indian
subcontinent. The bird is symbolically significant in the
culture of North India and Pakistan, where it is known as
The Demoiselle is 85100 cm long with a 155180
cm wingspan. It weighs 23 kg. It is the smallest species
The Demoiselle Crane is slightly smaller than the Common Crane
but has similar plumage. It has a long white neck stripe
and the black on the foreneck extends down over the chest
in a plume.
It has a loud trumpeting call, higher-pitched than the Common
Crane. Like other cranes it has a dancing display, more balletic
than the Common Crane, with less leaping.
The Demoiselle Crane lives in a variety of different environments,
including desert areas and numerous types of grasslands
(flooded, mountain, temperate and tropical grassland) which
are often within a few hundred metres of streams or lakes.
However, when nesting, they prefer patchy areas of vegetation
which is tall enough to conceal them and their nests, yet
enough to allow them look out for predators whilst incubating
Demoiselle Cranes have to take one of the toughest migrations
in the world. In late August through September, they gather
flocks of up to 400 individuals and prepare for their flight
to their winter range. During their migratory
flight south, Demoiselles
fly like all cranes, with their head and neck straight forward
and their feet and legs straight behind, reaching altitudes
4,900-7,900 m. Along their arduous journey they have to
cross the Himalayan mountains to get to their over-wintering
in India, many die from fatigue, hunger and predation from
birds such as eagles.
Simpler, lower routes are possible, such as crossing the
range via the Khyber Pass. However, their presently preferred
route has been hard-wired by countless cycles of migration.
Pass. [Photograph]. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved
7 April 2012, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/6234/Khyber-Pass-Pakistan
At their wintering grounds, Demoiselles have been observed
flocking with Common Cranes, their combined totals reaching
20,000 individuals. Demoiselles maintain separate social
groups within the larger flock. In March and April, they
begin their long
spring journey back to their northern nesting grounds.In
Khichan, Rajasthan in India, villagers feed the Cranes on
and these large congregations have become an annual spectacle.
Cranes of Khichan (Rajasthan India)
Hooded Crane, Grus monacha
The Hooded Crane, Grus monacha, is a small, dark crane.
It has a grey body. The top of the neck and head is white,
a patch of bare red skin above the eye. It is one of the smallest
cranes, but is still a fairly large bird, at 1 m long, a weight
of 3.7 kg
and a wingspan of 1.87 m.
Adult crowns are unfeathered, red, and covered with black
hairlike bristles. The head and neck are snow white, which
down the neck. The body plumage is otherwise slaty gray. The
primaries, secondaries, tail, and tail coverts are black.
is hazel yellow to orange brown, legs and toes are nearly
black. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable,
tend to be slightly larger in size.
Juvenile crown are covered with black and white feathers
during the first year, and exhibit some brownish or grayish
on their body feathers.
The Hooded Crane breeds in south-central and south-eastern
Siberia. Breeding is also suspected to occur in Mongolia.
Over 80% of its population winters at Izumi, southern Japan.
There are also wintering grounds in South Korea and China.
There are about 100 hooded cranes wintering in Chongming Dongtan,
Shanghai every year. Dongtan Nature reserve is the largest
natural wintering site in the world. In December 2011, a Hooded
Crane was seen overwintering at the Hiwassee Refuge in
southeastern Tennessee, well outside its normal range. In
February 2012, one was seen at Goose Pond in southern Indiana,
and is suspected to be the same bird, which may have migrated
to North America by following sandhill cranes.
The estimated population of the species is 9,500 individuals.
The major threats to its survival are wetland loss and degradation
its wintering grounds in China and South Korea as a result
of reclamation for development and dam building.
Conservation activities have been taken since 2008.
Hooded Cranes nest and feed in isolated sphagnum bogs scattered
through the taiga in southeastern Russia, and in China,
in forested wetlands in mountain valleys. Non-breeding birds
are found in shallow open wetlands, natural grasslands, and
agricultural fields in southern Siberia and northeastern Mongolia.
Hooded Cranes often associate with
Eurasian and White-naped Cranes.
Mated pairs of cranes, including Hooded Cranes, engage in
unison calling, which is a complex and extended series of
calls. The birds stand in a specific posture, usually with
their heads thrown back and beaks skyward during the display.
always lifts up his wings over his back during the unison
call while the female keeps her wings folded at her sides.
males initiate the display and utter one call for every two
female calls. All cranes also engage in dancing, which includes
behaviors such as bowing, jumping, running, stick or grass
tossing, and wing flapping. Dancing can occur at any age and
commonly associated with courtship, however, it is generally
believed to be a normal part of motor development for cranes
and can serve to thwart aggression, relieve tension, and strengthen
the pair bond.
Hooded Cranes nest in isolated, widely scattered bogs in
the taiga and in other forested wetlands. Mossy areas are
with widely scattered larch trees. Nests are constructed
of damp moss, peat, sedge stalks and leaves, and branches
and birch. Females usually lay two eggs and incubation (by
both sexes) lasts 27-30 days. The male takes the primary
defending the nest against possible danger. Chicks fledge
(first flight) at approximately 75 days.
All cranes are omnivorous. Hooded Cranes diet includes aquatic
plants, berries, insects, frogs, salamanders, roots, rhizomes,
grass, and small animals. At artificial feeding stations in
Korea and Japan, Hooded Cranes eat rice, wheat, and other
Rapid development of the Hooded Crane's key wintering
grounds in Japan, Korea, and China and the high risk
of disease outbreak in the concentrated flocks at
the winter feeding stations pose the most serious
threats to the Hooded Crane. Drainage of wetlands
and intensified logging pressures in Russia's taiga
forests; reclamation of wintering grounds in China
for agriculture and alterations in the hydrology of
these areas caused by large dam construction (for
example the Three
Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River) are additional
Source: Wikipedia and
When nothing else stated, all pictures courtesy
International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, Wisconsin. www.savingcranes.org