Heron vs Crane Best 10 Main Differences Explained

Heron vs Crane

Heron species belong to the family Ardeidae. The herons possess a long neck, also called S-shaped neck for flight. They resemble Great egret inhabits and characteristics, differing only in coloration of the blue heron. The great white herons are with white plumages. These great white herons are only present in southern Florida. For instance, the great blue heron possesses lighter legs. In contrast, egrets are white birds having black legs and long necks. In addition, the egrets are with white feathers lives in shallow water.

 Other heron species, including green herons and great blue herons, are of the same size. The green heron birds being the small, stocky herons, carry short legs and necks. The great blue herons are present in wetlands and near open water shores. The great blue herons stand approximately 46 inches tall, with a wing span of about 6 feet. In comparison, the little blue herons are Smokey blue-gray colored. The little blue heron curves its neck while flying. The great blue herons inhabit fields, meadows, marshes, and backyard ponds. The great blue herons curve their necks outstretched into S-shape. 

Herons also attack other herons if they are not happy with their presence. Therefore, the great blue herons prefer a solitary life. In comparison, cranes belong to the family Gruidae. These are the large birds with a sharp bill and a shorter neck, sleeker heads, shorter beaks, and long legs. Cranes can be seen in the Kissimmee prairie in the winter. They fly with their necks straight. The long legs help them stand in water without getting their feathers wet. Cranes’ necks stick straight our unlike herons. There are also other species of cranes, including the whooping crane and Sandhill crane. 

Heron vs Crane

The whooping crane is the largest bird, with a wing span of about 7 feet. In contrast, Sandhill cranes are with broad wings, and long legs. Crane is an extremely rare bird; only whooping crane lives in the wild today. Almost the same number of crane species live in captivity and the wild. There are many differences between cranes and herons. The big difference between cranes and herons is their size. 



Herons possess a thick, dagger-like bill, a sinuous neck, and long necks. They get a shaggy appearance due to wing plumes, chest, and head. Their long necks are crooked in the middle, resembling an S shape and helping to support the head and the heavy bill. The feet dangle down, and the head curves back against the body during their flight. 

Although African crowned cranes possess golden-colored feathers on heads, cranes are white, gray, or brown-colored. They are called long-necked and long-legged birds with large rounded wings and streamlined bodies. The females and males don’t vary in external appearance, but males are more significant than females. 

Heron is present in various countries, including the Caribbean to South America, Mexico, Florida, the Southern Canadian provinces, Alaska, and North America. Furthermore, these non-swimming water birds inhabit water, tropical areas, lowland areas, and alpine areas.

Cranes are present in various countries, including the North of Russia, the Baltic, and Scandinavia. In addition, the habitat of these birds consists of natural wetlands, depressions, rivers, streams, and shallow lakes. They spend most of their time on dry grasses.  

Heron possesses a body length between 3.2 to 4.5 feet, with a wingspan from approximately 5.5 to 5.6 feet. These birds are weighing between 1.82 and 3.6 kilograms.  The males are more significant than females, weighing from 6 to 8 pounds. The females weigh between 4.5 and 6 pounds.

Crane is a medium-sized bird, with a body length of 39 to 51 inches and a wingspan from 71 to 94 inches. Some species weigh up to 13.4 pounds, while some weigh 12 pounds. The Sandhill crane females weigh up to 10 pounds while males are more significant with 14 pounds. 

Herons being carnivores, eat reptiles, crustaceans, insects, fish, and small mammals. Their diet primarily consists of other animals, relying on frogs, worms, amphibians, reptiles, and molluscs. 

Cranes are omnivores, meaning they can eat both animals and plants. Their diet includes seeds, berries, small animals, worms, spiders, insects, rodents, eggs, earthworms, tubers, snakes, etc. 

Herons wallow slowly while stalking their prey in flooded meadows or shallow water. Heron species will strike via their long necks, throwing their sharp and dagger-like bills at prey. In addition, they also grab prey with solid jaw muscles and beaks. 

The hunting of Sandhill cranes, like waterfowl hunting, is dependent on birds’ resting and feeding a variety of habitats. These species go to water for food. Crane pushes its long-sized beak into the flowing water and puts fish between beaks, taking it out of water. 

Herons undergo sexual reproduction, like all other birds. The eggs have to be incubated to get hatched; after being fertilized and laid. Furthermore, both sexes of cranes will incubate eggs contrasting to some avian species. 

Cranes usually lay two eggs. Their breeding season is between December and August. The wattled cranes are laying only one egg in a single clutch. The females lay up to 3 dull brown to reddish brown-colored markings and oval-shaped eggs. 

Herons possess about three times better eyesight than humans. Its excellent depth perception is due to its binocular vision. The built-in zoom lens helps crane species, switching swiftly between macro and telescopic sight. 

Birds usually search for specific patterns and shapes. Cranes have a perfect eyesight, requiring them to fly. Therefore, the hunters must be attentive while hunting these birds. They are also considered fast due to their large size. 

Herons build their nests in various trees using different sticks. They will also nest in mangroves, on bushes, on the ground, and the structures, including artificial nest platforms, channel markers, and duck blinds. 

Cranes pull up roots and plants, tossing the vegetation over their shoulders to form a mound. In addition, they add a cup-shaped hollow lining with tiny stems to the foundation of this more extensive material. 

Herons live for a specific time, after which they die. For instance, the oldest bird lived for almost 23 years. But the herons possess an average lifespan between 3 and 5 years in the wild. 

Cranes also have a specific lifespan, like heron species. For instance, they live for about 80 years in captivity and 20 to 30 years in the wild. The oldest bird lived for 30 years.  

Several predators also attack herons. The predators of these birds consist of ravens, crows, turkey vultures, raccoons, eagles, bears, and hawks. 

The predators of cranes vary from place to place as these birds live in various regions. Their predators include wild cats, eagles, foxes, and other animals.


Sometimes people get confused and raise questions relating to heron vs. crane to clear their minds. Therefore, the answers to some of those questions are as below;

Are cranes and herons related?

Herons belong to the family Ardeidae. In comparison, cranes belong to the family Gruidae. Although they possess 15 species throughout the world, only two are present in North America.  

What is a white bird that seems like a crane?

These are the tall, long-legged wading birds with long dagger-like bills and S-curved necks called Great egrets. 

Are there black cranes?

There are no black cranes as they are considered the endangered birds in Asia. They are almost four feet tall, with black feathers on their heads and a long neck. Therefore, they are called Black-crowned cranes. 

Do herons like humans?

Like many wild animals on earth, herons are shy of humans. However, they will show aggressive behavior only if their young ones are threatened or cornered and when they are handled. 

How far can a heron fly?

The herons travel flight distances ranging between approximately 13 and 166 yards. It indicates a considerable amount of variability. 


Various species, including plants and animals, are present throughout the world, possessing unique identification characters discriminating against them. The same is the case with cranes and herons. Cranes are large-sized birds, while herons with long necks are small-sized. Herons spend most of their time alone; that’s why they are solitary species. Although they look similar in appearance, both species have unique physical and behavioral adaptations. This blog post provides excellent facts and information about these species that are enough to clear people’s minds. It will help great if you read this article with great attention. 

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