31 Great Facts about Crane Birds

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

The crane is a bird belonging to the crane family in Eurasia and Africa, but in North America in the Big Islands region of New Mexico. It is simple to recognise the Sandhill Crane because of its black head, neck, and wide white stripe that begins below the eye. The crane inhabits damp meadows, wetlands, and grassy fields in its normal breeding region. It frequently appears on agricultural lands during migration.

They are the tallest bird in the United Kingdom, reaching about 120 cm. Long legs, an extended neck, and curved, drooping tail feathers make it a lovely bird. With a black and white head with a red patch behind the eye, it is primarily grey in colour. While flying, their legs roll behind them with their neck extended long in front of them for more exciting information about this amazing bird.

Crane plumage is pale bluish-gray. The eyes are reddish-orange, the bill is short, and the legs and feet are black. Although males tend to be slightly larger than females, they are essentially indistinguishable from one another. The young have almost-white heads and light grey bodies.

They inhabit a variety of habitats, including desert regions and several types of grasslands (flooded, mountain, temperate, and tropical grasslands), many of which are located just a few hundred metres from lakes or streams. Yet when they’re nesting, they like zones with sparse vegetation that is tall enough to hide them and their nests.


Crane birds are omnivorous; their main diet includes plant matter, insects, peanuts, beans and other grains, and small animals. They are primarily birds of dry grasslands (savannahs, steppes, and semi-deserts). They make use of agricultural fields and moist steppe areas and are usually found within a few hundred meters of streams, rivers, shallow lakes, depressions, and other wet landscapes.

They gather small pebbles and some thin bedding together to make a nest, but eggs are often laid directly on the ground. Females usually lay two eggs, and both parents incubate the eggs for 27-29 days. The male takes his primary role in defending the nest against potential danger. Feathers appear for the young within 55-65 days.

General Characteristics

It is known that it is able to reach heights of up to 152.4 cm and more, and it is considered one of the oldest living birds on earth, and there are many types of cranes, of which we will discuss 11 types, with the most important characteristics that distinguish each type, and we will get to know the essential interesting facts about the crane, which is one of the tallest birds in the world.

The crane, one of nature’s magnificent long birds with long legs and long necks, spends the majority of its time near the shallow waters of marshes, lakes, streams, and ponds, where it hunts for prey and constructs nests.

Fifteen species of cranes, all family members, are still alive today. Insects, fish, rodents, tiny reptiles, amphibians, plants, and even certain cultivated plants are typically part of its diet. In pursuit of a tiny bite to eat, it would dig with its beak in the sand or shallow water. It also consumes tiny pebbles and granules to aid in the digestion of its food.


The fact that cranes engage in a complex courtship dance to entice a potential partner is one of the most intriguing things to know about them. Several of them have repeated mating seasons and co-parent their offspring. Cranes are recognised to be highly vulnerable, though, as their native wetlands are among the most endangered environments in the world. This page discusses some important information regarding the identification and behaviour of eight different species of cranes from throughout the world, all of which are threatened with extinction. Many of the species on this list have peculiar looks.

Most Famous Types

Cranes are long birds distinguished by their beautiful feathers and elaborate dances. They are among the oldest birds on earth, and as mentioned previously, there are fifteen species spread all over the world except for South America and Antarctica, and in North America, two species were found and differ the species from the colour of the feathers to the toes, and their types are:

Common crane

It is distinguished by its stony-grey body colour, redhead, and white stripe extending from the eyes down the neck, also known as the Eurasian Crane. The breeding season is mostly spent in northern Eurasia, after which it migrates south, occasionally even into sub-Saharan Africa. One of the tiniest cranes in the world, the Great Desert Winter Crane, measures around 4 feet long and weighs about 4.5 kilogrammes.

Nevertheless, it is one of the most common birds in terms of population. As many as 400,000 mature individuals could be left in the wild because of its extensive distribution. This bird has even started to reappear in Ireland after a protracted absence.

Sarus crane

The Sarus crane, which is indigenous to wetlands in India, Southeast Asia, and Australia, stands about 182.88 cm tall, making it the tallest bird in the world. The male of this species also dances when mating season comes around, and grey feathers distinguish it from dark red feathers on the head and top of the neck.

Particularly intricate consisting of elegant leaps and movements. When a mate has been selected, the male and female will build a base in the water that is more than 183 cm in diameter out of reeds and grasses.

Whooping crane

The whooping crane has a height of more than 152.4 cm (with a wingspan of about 243.84 cm). It is the tallest bird in North America in terms of height alone, and it is distinguished by its white body, red crown, and black wing tips, making it easy to identify.

The whooping crane is endemic to the northern part of the continent, and when the first signs of winter appear, it migrates south like Florida and Louisiana and travels more than 3862.426 km each year due to its migratory journeys, where it prefers to spend summers in northern Canada.

During this time, it breeds, and in mid-September, it soars towards the Texas coast’s Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The combined impacts of unrestricted hunting and habitat degradation have made this species, which is among the most endangered cranes in the world, nearly extinct by the middle of the 20th century.

There have been numerous attempts to return them to their original habitats, but the IUCN Red List estimates that there are still more than 250 mature individuals living in the wild.

Canadian crane

The Canadian crane is endemic to North America and northeastern Siberia and can be identified by the grey body (which turns brown and sandy in the genital tract) with a red forehead, white cheeks, and a dark pointed beak when winter approaches.

This incredible bird travels south towards America and Mexico in big groups that may reach hundreds, and when they reach these wintering places, they can easily make up a flock of over 10,000 at a time. According to the IUCN Red List, the Canadian crane is one of the most prevalent and populous cranes, with around 500,000 adults living in the wild.

Blue crane

It breeds in Africa, mainly south of the Sahara, and has been widely introduced in the West Indies, Brazil, Australia and southern France. It is a tall, ground-dwelling bird that is pale blue-grey.

Black-crowned crane

The lavish bow of golden feathers on the head, the big red cheek patches, and the black plumage set out the Black-crowned crane. The aptly named crane forages hunt its native food of insects and fish in the shallow marshes of sub-Saharan Africa. There doesn’t appear to be a reproductive function for the golden crown. Men and females share the same characteristics, and the only noticeable difference between the sexes is the bigger size of males, which serves as the primary identifier.

According to the IUCN Red List, only 50,000 mature Black-crowned cranes are left in the wild, making it a vulnerable species. The Gray-crowned crane, a closely related species, has a similar form and similar size but has a grey body and prefers to live in Africa’s southern and eastern regions.

Siberian crane

The only colours on the Siberian Crane’s all-white coat are the red feathers on its face and a few faint black spots that can be seen around its wings when it is flying. This white Siberian crane migrates south to India and China for the winter despite being well-adapted to the harsh conditions of northern Siberia.

Just a few thousand Siberian Whites survive in the wild, making them an endangered species. However, constructing a new dam in China’s Poyang Lake Basin threatens one of its remaining significant refuges, potentially driving it further into extinction.

Squirrel crane

From the Black Sea coast to China, wetlands, streams, and lakes in Eurasia are home to the squirrel crane. In quest of warmer weather when winter arrives, it migrates south, some flocks crossing the treacherous Himalayas, exposing them to weariness, starvation, and even death.

The majority of this species’ body is covered in light grey feathers, with black and white feathers strewn from the eyes to the head and mixed in around the neck. There are only 250,000 individuals of this species left in the wild, according to the IUCN Red List, making it a species of the least concern.

Red crane

It is called the Japanese bird because, in 1952, it became the national bird in Japan. It is considered one of the largest and rarest, and it is called the red bird. It has bright red feathers on its head, but the rest of its body is snow-white feathers, and the tail is black in colour. The weight of this bird is 11 kg, and it is an endangered species, as it is found in small numbers in East Asia, such as Japan, China, and North and South Korea.

Demoiselle crane

It is one of the smallest species and is found in Europe and North Africa, as these species are used to living in dry environments. It cannot live near water but prefers grassy or even arid lands and is characterized by white feathers at its ear that extend behind the eye.

Brolga crane

The Brolga crane often called the Australian crane, has red hair and a grey body. The hanging bag or sac around the neck may be the most glaring indicator of identity. The bag is covered with dense black hairs, which are particularly visible to the male.

The Brolga crane is a native of Australia and the nearby islands, and it may aid in amplifying the mating call during the breeding season. They engage in a complicated courtship ritual that includes dancing with precise movement, strutting, and bobbing their heads in groups or pairs when the rainy season approaches. Although being listed by the IUCN Red List as being of very little concern, populations of the Brolga crane appear to be declining everywhere they are found.

Some important information about the cranes

Here is the most important and prominent information about this bird the following points:

  1. Although it does not share any genetic ancestry with storks or herons, the crane resembles these birds in appearance. Each one of them has four genera and a total of 15 species.
  2. With the exception of Antarctica and South America, all continents can support these birds’ natural habitats.
  3. The number of all crane species has declined dramatically due to accelerated habitat loss and the pet trade in the past two years, and some of its species are on the endangered species list.
  4. The Eurasian crane is the highest-altitude bird and is known to soar over the Himalayas at altitudes of up to 10,000 m, which is as high as jet planes take off.
  5. Some types of cranes are known to migrate very long distances, while others don’t migrate at all.
  6. It is known to sleep on one leg with its head under its wing and the other leg extending towards the body.
  7. Each type of this incredible bird has its own tone and volume when communicating, and these tones range from the soft crowing of the crested crane to the sound of a flute like the call of the Siberian crane.
  8. It also uses its body language when communicating with other cranes.


It is widely known that the nature of the relationship between humans and cranes differs from one place to another, as they are treated as a kind of pet and are raised in homes in Africa, while they are displayed in zoos in Europe and the countries of the Levant, and they are often caught in the migration season for several reasons.

Over the past two years, the groups of all crested crane species have been declining dramatically due to habitat loss, acceleration and the pet trade. Crested crane species are listed as endangered: the whooping crane, the Florida sandhill crane, the Siberian crane, and the Mississippi sandhill crane.

Some hunt them to obtain their meat, and some hunt or poison them under the pretext that they harm agricultural crops, as they are forced to live in agricultural fields due to the exposure of their natural habitats to destruction due to human activities.

It is forbidden to hunt endangered species of hostage, especially in the regions of Asia and Africa, while it is permitted to hunt species that are abundant in different regions, such as Canadian hostages in North America and squirrel and Eurasian hostages in regions of Eurasia.

On the other hand, researchers have developed a cheap powder that can be sprayed on the seeds before planting. The rhododendron is alienated, so it is unable to approach the plants despite its survival in the fields, so it begins to search for earthworms and insects as an alternative source of food.


Crane birds make one of the most difficult migrations in the world; from late August until September, they gather in flocks of up to 400 birds preparing for the flight for the winter group. During their migration southward flight, they fly with their head and neck straight ahead and feet and legs straight behind to reach heights of 4,875-7,925 m. They trek across the Himalayas to reach India in winter, dying from fatigue, hunger and predation by golden eagles.

Here is the most important information about the migration of the crane:

  1. The longest migratory season is experienced by sandhill cranes, which travel annually between their breeding and wintering habitats in northeastern Siberia and northern Mexico.
  2. Certain crane species, like the African Wattled, Blue, and Crowned Cranes, only migrate annually within their native African regions and do not travel significant distances.
  3. These birds must migrate twice a year, which is a tough period for them due to habitat degradation along flight patterns, power line collisions, and shooting.
  4. Every time a family of birds migrates, the parents accompany the young birds and show them the way.
  5. Some sandhill cranes migrate to wintering grounds in the southwest United States and northern Mexico after breeding in the north, such as Siberia.
  6. When people migrate, they do not regard political boundaries, which unify several nations to safeguard cranes.
  7. The smallest species of this bird, the squirrel crane, travels over the Himalayas, traversing mountain ranges at heights of up to 7924.8 m to arrive at its wintering grounds in India.
  8. Sarus cranes are found in Southeast Asia, where they breed in little wetlands in the forests of northern Cambodia and winter in the Mekong River valley in Vietnam.
  9. These magnificent birds migrate using thermals or warm air boosts to gain height and glide long distances, covering an average distance of 321 kilometres every day.

Crane Hunting

It is possible to catch them by following the following steps:


This method is famous for setting up an ambush, i.e., digging holes in order to trap it. When the cranes reach shallow lakes or marshes, which are considered one of their favourite places in their migration, hunters come to watch them and ambush them, so traps are dug in front of their houses and their pasture places, so they are expelled and pursued to the traps to get stuck in them. Hunting is usually very early in the morning.

The ambush is usually placed on the edges of the water stream, i.e., the place from which the crane drinks, as he is very careful not to drink from the middle of the stream. The evidence for this is the traces of his feet and the excrement that he leaves behind while drinking, and his departure from the lakes and places where rain collects.


Many people prefer to use a hunting weapon to attack the crane, so the hunter goes before sunset to the lake or the place where the fodder is placed, and they are well monitored, and during the night, a searchlight is shined on them, and they are attacked against the air current and then shot.

If there is no searchlight, crawling is done with caution to a close distance from it, and then sniping it with weapons, and it is preferable to shoot when the bird takes off, i.e., its escape, as it is slow to take off because of its large size.


This method is considered useless in hunting cranes, as cars are used to chase this bird and catch up with it, whoever uses this method is ignorant of the characteristics of this bird and cannot hunt as he wants, and his car will be damaged during the chase, as the bird is very clever in how to take off while escaping, and by using a hunting rifle he can aim at the bird, but he will not It only hunts in very modest numbers.

Obtaining a hunting license for migratory birds

The license includes the number of birds allowed to be hunted per day or throughout the season, noting that the numbers vary from one region to another. The license also includes the permitted time for hunting, which extends from half an hour before sunrise to sunset. While it is forbidden to hunt the endangered rhubarb, such as the American crane, it can be distinguished by its white body colour except for a red spot on the head, a black moustache, and the tips of the black wings.

Choose the right time and place.

Where it is preferable to catch rhino birds while they are heading to the feeding places, that is, the agricultural fields, after observing them for a period to know the path that they take, knowing that, in this case, they fly at a low altitude, which facilitates their hunting. The use of decoys, which are in the form of a whole bird, in order to attract birds. Use of shielding It is the cover that hides the hunter from the birds of prey due to their keen eyesight and the use of plants to camouflage the warblers.

Using a 3-inch hunting rifle loaded with 2-inch bullets to hunt the bird. A hunting dog can also be used to retrieve the bird after it has fallen. The hunter is advised to take caution and not approach the bird until it is confirmed that it is dead because the wounded bird is very dangerous and may try to peck the hunter’s hand or the eye of the accompanying dog or snap its claws into their hands.

If you are interested in more bird-related topics, you may also like to read about Doves, Pigeons, Mountains, Rainbows, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms, Islands, Blizzards, Volcanoes, Continents, and Crows.

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