Crane Bird are large wading birds. The name “Crane” is derived from the German word “Kan” and the Dutch word “Kraan” that develops into the English word Crane, which means “cry hoarsely.” They are found on all the continents except South America and Antarctica. They inhabit wetland and grass plains habitats.
They belong to Animalia kingdom, Chordata phylum, Gruidae family, Gruoidea superfamily, Gruiformes order, and Aves class. There are 15 crane species included in 4 genera. The genus “Balearica” contains two species, i.e., Balearica pavonina (Black-crowned crane, found in western and eastern Africa) and Balearica regulorum (Grey-crowned Crane, found in southern and eastern Africa).
The genus “Leucogeranus” contains one species i.e. Leucogeranus leucogeranus (Siberian crane, found in western Siberia and northeastern Siberia). The genus “Antigone” contains four species, i.e. Antigone Canadensis (Sandhill crane, found in Cuba and eastern Siberia), Antigone vision (White-naped crane, found in northeastern China and New Guinea), Antigone Antigone (Sarus crane, found in northern India, Nepal and northern Australia) and Antigone rubicunda (Brolga, found in Australia and New Guinea).
The genus “Grus” contains eight species, i.e., Grus carunculata (Wattled crane, found in Ethiopia and South Africa), Grus paradise (Blue crane, found in South Africa and Namibia), Grus Virgo (Demoiselle crane, found in northwest Africa, central and eastern Asia), Grus Japanese (Red-crowned crane, found in northeast China, Russia, and Japan), Grus americana (Whooping crane, found in Canada and Florida), Grus grus (Common crane, found in northern Eurasia, Turkey, and the Caucasus), Grus monacha (Hooded crane, found in northeastern China and southeastern Russia) and Grus nigricollis (Black-necked Crane, found in northern India, western and central China).
Cranes are very much alike herons, but they also exhibit some distinguishing characteristics. They exhibit heavy bills, compact plumages, elevated hind toe, and outstretched necks during flight. They feed on small animals, grains, and grass shoots.
They are monogamous and mate for life. Their breeding season depends on the local climate and conditions. Certain courtship rituals include dancing, unison calling, flapping their wings, bowing, and jumping. They exhibit bare skin on their faces and throat features to communicate with each other. They can live in the form of groups to protect their young ones. They are related to humans in so many aspects, including their vocalizations, height, perennial monogamy, and social nature.
They have an average size of about 1 meter to 1.4 meters or 40 inches to 55 inches, an average weight of about 3.7 kilograms to 10 kilograms or 8.2 pounds to 22 pounds, and an average wingspan of about 1.8 meters to 2.4 meters or 71 inches to 95 inches. They exhibit a top speed of about 25 miles per hour.
Some of the predators of these birds are foxes, eagles, and wildcats. The major threat to these birds is habitat destruction by humans. Most species of Cranes are listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. However, the conservation status also depends upon the individual species. Their average lifespan is 15 to 30 years.
Crane Bird Attack:
Cranes have a large size, aggressive nature, and ability to fly high that protect them against predators. Some predators of Cranes are eagles, wildcats, foxes, and humans.
Cranes can approach people and even grab them. They have been seen pecking people, damaging windows, and other property. They can also become friends when they are properly fed and taken care of. They lose their fear of human beings and can grab food directly from a person’s hands.
Crane Bird Baby:
The breeding season of Cranes depends on local climate conditions. Migratory Cranes breed after returning to their habitats during summer. Tropical Cranes breed during monsoon seasons. These birds are monogamous that mate for life. They become sexually mature at 2 to 3 years of their age. They perform some courtship rituals, including dancing, bowing, flapping their wings, and unison calling.
They often perform several attempts while breeding. Failure results in the divorce between partners. They remain in their lifelong bonds as long as they breed successfully. The nesting sites are dry grounds, marshes, and fields. The nests are made from grasses and weed stalks.
Females lay two eggs—the eggs hatch after one month. The windpipe of the chick lengthens with age and coils upon itself like a horn. After two months, the young one becomes able to fly and leave the nest.
Crane Bird Behavior:
Cranes are diurnal and migratory. They usually live in the form of groups. They are well known for their lifelong bonds as long as they breed successfully.
They have a specific scheme to hide from predators. The forest inhabitants apply mud to their feathers for this purpose. Crane species exhibit bare skin on their faces except for Blue cranes and Demoiselle cranes. Cranes communicate with each other with the help of this bare skin by expanding and relaxing its muscles.
Another feature that helps them in communication is the throat feature. They communicate by pressing the windpipe into the bone in their chest. They exhibit a wide range of vocabulary. Some cranes, especially Blue cranes and Demoiselle cranes, exhibit feather movement on their heads to signal their flocks.
These birds become territorial during the breeding season and live in the form of flocks during the non-breeding season. Living in flocks keeps them safe from predators and helps them in becoming social.
Crane Bird Call:
Crane birds exhibit a wide range of vocabulary. They start learning human-like calls after hatching. During the early days of their lives, they make sounds to ask for food from their parents. As time passes, they start exhibiting signal calls, flight intention calls, duet calls, and alarm calls.
The features that help them to communicate with each other are bare skin on their faces and throat features. They communicate with the help of bare skin (by contracting and relaxing muscles) and throat features (by pressing windpipes into the bones in their chests). Some Crane species have fused windpipes that help them in making more powerful calls.
Crane Bird Characteristics:
Some of the characteristics of Crane birds are as follows,
- Cranes are tall birds. They exhibit long legs, necks, and bills.
- They are usually brown, grey, or white in color. African crowned cranes (Balearica pavonina) have a distinguishing gold crown of feathers on their heads.
- They resemble herons very much but have heavier bodies and outstretched patterns of necks in flight.
- The Sarus crane is the largest Crane having a size of about 156 centimeters to 200 centimeters. The Wattled Crane is the largest Crane in Africa and the second tallest Crane species having a size of about 172 centimeters. The Whooping Crane is the tallest North American Crane having a size of about 150 centimeters.
- These birds inhabit grass plains and wetlands.
- They are opportunistic feeders.
- They form large flocks.
- They are monogamous and form lifelong bonds.
Crane Bird Colours:
Cranes are large-sized birds having a variety of colors, including brown, grey, blue, red, white, and black, but they mostly exhibit brown, white, or grey color.
Crane Bird Diet:
Cranes are omnivores. They feed on insects, birds, small mammals, small reptiles, snails, worms, nuts, seeds, leaves, acorns, fruits, and berries while living on land. They also eat roots, rhizomes, tubers, frogs, and small fish while living on the wetland.
Their diet highly depends upon food availability, their location, and time of year. Cranes having short-sized beaks prefer land foods, while the birds having large-sized beaks prefer wetland foods.
Their feeding behaviors include digging holes for searching for food, lowering their heads and bills while probing for insects.
They have an ability to adapt to their habitats that prevent overfeeding to reduce food competition. White napped cranes feed on wetland food, and Siberian cranes feed in shallow water. Hooded cranes are present in the same area feeding on agricultural fields and meadows.
Crane Bird Eggs:
After the formation of nests in grounds, marshes, and fields with the help of weed stalks and grasses, females lay two eggs. The eggs are olive-grey in color with brown spots. The size of the egg depends on the size of the Crane species. The larger the size of Crane, the larger is the egg. The largest known crane egg has a size of about 4.6 inches.
Crane Bird Facts:
Some of the facts about Crane birds are as follows,
- Cranes are found in all continents except Antarctica and South America.
- There are 15 Crane species.
- Their necks get outstretched during flight.
- Their most distinctive features are their large size and long beaks.
- They are omnivores and feed on insects, fish, grains, etc.
- They inhabit temperate wetlands.
- They are highly social and live in the form of flocks.
- Some of the predators of these birds are foxes, eagles, and wildcats.
- They are listed as “Near threatened” by IUCN.
- Their average lifespan is 15 to 30 years.
- Siberian Crane lived for about 83 years in captivity.
Cranes are large-sized birds having brown, grey, or white coloration that are found across all the continents except South America and Antarctica. There are 15 Crane species that are well known for their social nature, lifelong bonds, elaborate dances, a wide range of vocalizations, and adaptability to their own habitats to reduce food competition. They exhibit outstretched necks during the flight, which distinguishes them from herons. They are critically endangered or threatened species.