A medium-sized species, it is the only crane commonly found in Europe besides the demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo). Along with the sandhill (Grus canadensis) and demoiselle cranes and the brolga (Grus rubicunda), it is one of only four crane species not currently classified as threatened with extinction or conservation dependent on the species level. Despite the species' large numbers, local extinctions and extirpations have taken place in part of its range, and an ongoing reintroduction project is underway in the United Kingdom.
|Distribution of common crane|
Yellow : breeding area
Blue : wintering area
green line : route
The first formal description of the common crane was by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Ardea grus. The current genus Grus was erected by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760. Grus is the Latin word for a "crane".
The common crane is a large, stately bird and a medium-sized crane. It is 100–130 cm (39–51 in) long with a 180–240 cm (71–94 in) wingspan. The body weight can range from 3 to 6.1 kg (6.6 to 13.4 lb), with the nominate subspecies averaging around 5.4 kg (12 lb) and the eastern subspecies (G. g. lilfordi) averaging 4.6 kg (10 lb). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 50.7–60.8 cm (20.0–23.9 in) long, the tarsus is 20.1–25.2 cm (7.9–9.9 in) and the exposed culmen is 9.5–11.6 cm (3.7–4.6 in).
This species is slate-grey overall. The forehead and lores are blackish with a bare red crown and a white streak extending from behind the eyes to the upper back. The overall colour is darkest on the back and rump and palest on the breast and wings. The primaries, the tips of secondaries, the alula, the tip of the tail, and the edges of upper tail coverts are all black and the greater coverts droop into explosive plumes. This combination of colouration ultimately distinguishes it from similar species in Asia, like the hooded (G. monacha) and black-necked cranes (G. nigricollis). The juvenile has yellowish-brown tips to its body feathers and lacks the drooping wing feathers and the bright neck pattern of the adult, and has a fully feathered crown. Every two years, before migration, the adult common crane undergoes a complete moult, remaining flightless for six weeks, until the new feathers grow.
It has a loud trumpeting call, given in flight and display. The call is piercing and can be heard from a considerable distance. It has a dancing display, leaping with wings uplifted, described in detail below.
This species is found in the northern parts of Europe and Asia. Formerly the species was spread as far west as Ireland, but about 200 years ago, it became extinct there. However, it has since started to return to Ireland naturally and there are now plans to help it return to Ireland on a greater scale. The common crane is an uncommon breeder in southern Europe, smaller numbers breeding in Greece, former-Yugoslavia, Romania, Denmark and Germany. Larger breeding populations can be found in Scandinavia, especially Finland and Sweden. The heart of the breeding population for the species is in Russia, however, where possibly up to 100,000 cranes of this species can be found seasonally. In Russia, it is distributed as a breeder from the Ukraine region to the Chukchi Peninsula. The breeding population extends as far south as Manchuria but almost the entire Asian breeding population is restricted to Russia. Approximately 48-50 breeding pairs exist in the UK, with population centres in Somerset and Norfolk.
The species is a long distance migrant predominantly wintering in northern Africa. Autumn migration is from August to October and spring migration is in March through May. Important staging areas occur anywhere from Sweden, The Netherlands and Germany to China (with a large one around the Caspian Sea) and many thousand cranes can be seen in one day in the Autumn. Some birds winter in southern Europe, including Portugal, Spain and France. Most eastern common cranes winter in the river valleys of Sudan, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Eritrea with smaller numbers in Turkey, northern Israel, Iraq and parts of Iran. The third major wintering region is in the northern half of Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan. Minimal wintering also occurs in Burma, Vietnam and Thailand. Lastly, they winter in eastern China, where they are often the most common crane (outnumbering black-necked cranes ten-to-one). Migrating flocks fly in a "V" formation.
It is a rare visitor to Japan and Korea, mostly blown over from the Chinese wintering population, and is a rare vagrant to western North America, where birds are occasionally seen with flocks of migrating sandhill cranes.
In Europe, the common crane predominantly breeds in boreal and taiga forest and mixed forests, from an elevation of sea-level to 2,200 m (7,200 ft). In northern climes, it breeds in treeless moors, on bogs, or on dwarf heather habitats, usually where small lakes or pools are also found. In Sweden, breeders are usually found in small, swampy openings amongst pine forests, while in Germany, marshy wetlands are used. Breeding habitat used in Russia are similar, though they can be found nesting in less likely habitat such as steppe and even semi-desert, so long as water is near. Primarily, the largest number of common cranes are found breeding in wooded swamps, bogs and wetlands and seem to require quiet, peaceful environs with minimal human interference. They occur at low density as breeders even where common, typically ranging from 1 to 5 pairs per 100 km2 (39 sq mi).
In winter, this species moves to flooded areas, shallow sheltered bays, and swampy meadows. During the flightless moulting period there is a need for shallow waters or high reed cover for concealment. Later, after the migration period, the birds winter regularly in open country, often on cultivated lands and sometimes also in savanna-like areas, for example on the Iberian Peninsula.
The common crane is omnivorous, as are all cranes. It largely eats plant matter, including roots, rhizomes, tubers, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds. They also commonly eat, when available, pond-weeds, heath berries, peas, potatoes, olives, acorns, cedarnuts and pods of peanuts. Notably amongst the berries consumed, the cranberry, is possibly named after the species.
Animal foods become more important during the summer breeding season and may be the primary food source at that time of year, especially while regurgitating to young. Their animal foods are insects, especially dragonflies, and also snails, earthworms, crabs, spiders, millipedes, woodlice, amphibians, rodents, and small birds.
Common cranes may either forage on land or in shallow water, probing around with their bills for any edible organism. Although crops may locally be damaged by the species, they mostly consume waste grain in winter from previously harvested fields and so actually benefit farmers by cleaning fields for use in the following year. As with other cranes, all foraging (as well as drinking and roosting) is done in small groups, which may variously consist of pairs, family groups or winter flocks.
This species usually lays eggs in May, though seldom will do so earlier or later. Like most cranes, this species displays indefinite monogamous pair bonds. If one mate dies, a crane may attempt to court a new mate the following year. Although a pair may be together for several years, the courtship rituals of the species are enacted by every pair each spring. The dancing of common cranes has complex, social meanings and may occur at almost any time of year. Dancing may include bobs, bows, pirouettes, and stops, as in various crane species. Aggressive displays may include ruffled wing feathers, throwing vegetation in the air and pointing the bare red patch on their heads at each other. Courtship displays begin with a male following the female in a stately, march-like walk. The unison call, consists of the female holding her head up and gradually lowering down as she calls out. The female calls out a high note and then the male follows with a longer scream in a similar posture. Copulation consists of a similar, dramatic display.
The nesting territory of common cranes is variable and is based on the local habitat. It can range in size from variously 2 to 500 ha (4.9 to 1,235.5 acres). In common with sandhill cranes (and no other crane species), common cranes "paint" their bodies with mud or decaying vegetation, apparently in order to blend into their nesting environment. The nest is either in or very near shallow water, often with dense shore vegetation nearby, and may be used over several years. The size and placement of the nest varies considerably over the range, with Arctic birds building relatively small nests. In Sweden, an average nest is around 90 cm (35 in) across.
The clutch of the common crane usually contains two eggs, with seldom one laid and, even more rarely, 3 or 4. If a clutch is lost early in incubation, the cranes may be able to lay another one within a couple of weeks. The incubation period is around 30 days and is done primarily by the female but occasionally by both sexes. If humans approach the nest both parents may engage in a distraction display but known ground predators (including domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)) are physically attacked almost immediately.
New hatchlings are generally quite helpless but are able to crawl away from danger within a few hours, can swim soon after hatching and can run with their parents at 24 hours old. Chicks respond to danger by freezing, using their camouflaged brownish down to defend them beyond their fierce parents. Young chicks use their wings to stabilise them while running, while by 9 weeks of age they can fly short distances. The adult birds go through their postbreeding moult while caring for their young, rendering them flightless for about 5 to 6 weeks around the time the young also can't fly yet. According to figures of cranes wintering in Spain, around 48% birds have surviving young by the time they winter and around 18% are leading two young by winter. By the next breeding season, the previous years young often flock together. The age of sexual maturity in wild birds has been estimated at variously from 3 to 6 years of age. It is thought that it is common for this species to live up to 30 or 40 years of age.
The common crane is a fairly social bird while not breeding. Flocks of up to 400 birds may be seen flying together during migration. Staging sites, where migrating birds gather to rest and feed in the middle of their migration, may witness thousands of cranes gathering at once. However, the flocks of the species are not stable social units but rather groups that ensure greater safety in numbers and collectively draw each other's attention to ideal foraging and roosting sites. Possibly due to a longer molt, younger and non-breeding cranes are usually the earliest fall migrants and may band together at that time of year. During these migratory flights, common cranes have been known to fly at altitudes of up to 33,000 ft (10,000 m), one of the highest of any species of bird, second only to the Ruppell's Griffin Vulture.
Cranes use a kleptoparasitic strategy to recover from temporary reductions in feeding rate, particularly when the rate is below the threshold of intake necessary for survival. Accumulated intake of common cranes during daytime at a site of stopover and wintering shows a typical anti-sigmoid shape, with greatest increases of intake after dawn and before dusk.
There are few natural predators of adult cranes, although white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Bonelli's eagles (Aquila fasciata) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are a potential predatory threat to common cranes of all ages. The crane has been known to counterattack eagles both on the land and in mid-flight, using their bill as a weapon and kicking with their feet. Common cranes were additionally recorded as prey for Eurasian eagle-owls (Bubo bubo) in the Ukok Plateau of Russia. Mammals such as wild boar (Sus scrofa), wolverine (Gulo gulo) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are attacked at the nest, as they are potential predators. When facing off against mammals, cranes jab with their bill, hit with their wings and kick with their feet. The cranes nimbly avoid strikes against themselves by jumping into the air. It is probable that are threatened by a wider range of large mammalian predators as is the black-necked crane but these have not yet been recorded. Herbivorous mammals such as red deer (Cervus elaphus) may also be attacked at the nest, indicating the high aggressiveness of the birds while nesting. The determined attack of a parent crane often assures safety from predators, but occasional losses to predation are inevitable. The carrion crow (Corvus corone) is locally a successful predator of common cranes' eggs, trickily using distraction displays to steal them. Other species of Corvus may also cause some loss of eggs, with common ravens (Corvus corax) also taking some small chicks. Common cranes may loosely associate with any other crane in the genus Grus in migration or winter as well as greater white-fronted geese and bean geese.
The global population is 600,000 (2014 estimate) with the vast majority nesting in Russia and Scandinavia. In some areas the breeding population appears to be increasing, such as in Sweden, whereas on the fringes of its range, it is often becoming rare to non-existent. In Great Britain, the common crane became extirpated in the 17th century, but a tiny population now breeds again in the Norfolk Broads and is slowly increasing and a reintroduction has been underway since 2010 for the Somerset levels. In Ireland, it died out as a breeding species in the 18th century, but a flock of about 30 appeared in County Cork in November 2011, and a smaller flock a year later. It was additionally extirpated as a breeder from Austria around 1900, from Hungary by 1952 and from Spain by 1954. The recovering German breeding population of 8,000 pairs is still also a fraction of the size of the large numbers that once bred in the country. Poland has 15,000 breeding pairs, 50 pairs breed in the Czech Republic and 2009 was the first confirmed breeding in Slovakia.
The main threat to the species, and the primary reason for its decline in the Western Palearctic, comes from habitat loss and degradation, as a result of dam construction, urbanisation, agricultural expansion, and drainage of wetlands. Although it has adapted to human settlement in many areas, nest disturbance, continuing changes in land use, and collision with utility lines are still potential problems. Further threats may include persecution due to crop damage, pesticide poisoning, egg collection, and hunting. The common crane is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
In Ireland, despite being extinct for over 200 years, the common crane plays a very important part in Irish culture and folklore and so thus recent efforts to encourage it back to Ireland are received with much enthusiasm.
Cranes are a family, the Gruidae, of large, long-legged, and long-necked birds in the group Gruiformes. The 15 species of cranes are placed 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.
They are opportunistic feeders that change their diets 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 and berries.
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; others do not migrate at all. Cranes are solitary during the breeding season, occurring in pairs, but during the nonbreeding season, they are gregarious, forming large flocks where their numbers are sufficient.
Most species of cranes have been affected by human activities and are at the least classified as threatened, if not critically endangered. The plight of the whooping cranes of North America inspired some of the first US legislation to protect endangered species.Cranes of Great Britain
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds of the order Gruiformes. Two species occur as wild birds in Britain: the common crane (Grus grus), a scarce migrant and very localised breeding resident currently being reintroduced to the country, and the sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis), an extreme vagrant from North America. A third species, the demoiselle crane (Grus virgo), has been recorded on a number of occasions, but these birds have not generally been accepted as being of wild origin.
A number of other species are kept in captivity, resulting in the possibility of escapees being seen.Demoiselle crane
The demoiselle crane (Grus 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 India and Pakistan, where it is known as Koonj.Dierenpark Tilburg
The Tilburgs Dierenpark was a zoo at the Bredaseweg in Tilburg, Netherlands.Grus
Grus can refer to
Grus (genus), a genus of birds in the crane family
Grus grus, the common crane
Grus (constellation), the constellation "Crane"
Grus (geology), an accumulation of angular, coarse-grained fragments (particles of sand and gravel) resulting from the granular disintegration of crystalline rocksGrus (genus)
Grus is a genus of large birds in the crane family.
The genus Grus was erected by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760. The name Grus is the Latin word for "crane". The German ornithologist Peter Simon Pallas was sometimes credited with erecting the genus in 1766 but the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature ruled in 1956 that Brisson should have priority.The genus formerly included additional species. A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2010 found that the genus Grus, as then defined, was polyphyletic. In the resulting rearrangement to create monophyletic genera, the sandhill crane, the white-naped crane, the sarus crane and the brolga were moved to the resurrected genus Antigone that had been erected by the German naturalist Ludwig Reichenbach in 1853. The Siberian crane was moved to the resurrected monotypic genus Leucogeranus.Kharkhiraa
Kharkhiraa (Mongolian: Хархираа, Harhirá; literally common crane) is a mountain of the Altai Mountains and is located in the Uvs Province in Mongolia. It has an elevation of 4,040 metres (13,255 ft).Kurki of Laukko
The Kurki or Kurck family, also known as the family of Laukko, is a medievally-originated Finnish noble family that produced several historically prominent persons. It is documented in the late 14th century. The family is usually divided in several lineages as it continued through female succession.
Please observe that no one surnamed Kurki who lived in Finland after the 17th century is descended from this family through documentarily proven agnatic lineage. The surname is common in Finland, and has been used by several other former or current unrelated families.
The medieval Kurki family held the manor of Laukko at least since the 14th century, until the beginning of the 19th century.
A seal of a member of this family is known already from the early 15th century. It depicts a common crane, which is kurki in Finnish. However, the coat of arms of the family since the 15th century depicts a sword with three stars (lady Elin's coat of arms, and later confirmed in the 1st baron's coat of arms at the Swedish House of Nobility when the baronial rank was obtained in 1652).
In 1797, Arvid Fredrik Kurck (1735-1810) was created a Swedish count, but his branch became extinct.Lake Hornborga
Lake Hornborga (Swedish: Hornborgasjön) is a lake in Västergötland in Sweden, famous for its many birds, in particular the many cranes that stay here temporarily during their annual migrations.Leigri Nature Reserve
Leigri Nature Reserve is a nature reserve situated in western Estonia, on Hiiumaa island.
The nature reserve consists of an area of wetlands and forest. Protected plant species that can be found in the nature reserve includes sweet gale, fir clubmoss and butterfly orchid. It also functions as breeding ground for common crane.List of national parks of Hungary
Hungary has ten national parks which cover approximately 10 percent of the country's territory. The parks are managed by the National Parks of Hungary government agency (Hungarian: Nemzeti park igazgatóság).Narachanski National Park
Narаchanski (Narochansky) National Park (Belarusian: Нарачанскі, Naračanski; Russian: Нарочанский, Naročanskij) is a national park in Belarus, centered on and named after Lake Narach. It was created on 28 July 1999, and covers an area of more than 87,000 hectares. Mammal species occurring in the park include red deer, raccoon dog, European badger, marten, and otter; fish species include common bream, silver bream, and crucian carp. The national park also includes 218 species of birds, such as the bittern, osprey and the common craneNorth Ostrobothnia
North Ostrobothnia (Finnish: Pohjois-Pohjanmaa; Swedish: Norra Österbotten) is a region of Finland. It borders the Finnish regions of Lapland, Kainuu, Northern Savonia (Pohjois-Savo), Central Finland and Central Ostrobothnia, as well as the Russian Republic of Karelia.Nätsi-Võlla Nature Reserve
Nätsi-Võlla Nature Reserve is a nature reserve situated in western Estonia, in Pärnu County, made up of several bogs that together form the largest bog area in Pärnu County.
It is an internationally important bird area, with species such as golden eagle, merlin and ruff. The bogs are rich in cloudberries and cranberries. The bogs of Nätsi-Võlla host numerous migratory species, such as the tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus). It also sees an annual congregation of numerous wader species. The bogs are also home to a significant percentage of the total national breeding population of such species as common crane (Grus grus) and black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa). Other birds found here are whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), Eurasian golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) and Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)ORP Żuraw
ORP Żuraw was a Jaskółka-class minesweeper of the Polish Navy at the outset of World War II. Her name is the Polish word for the common crane. Żuraw participated in the defense of Poland during the German invasion of 1939. The ship was surrendered to the Germans following the Polish capitulation and renamed Oxhöft as a naval trawler. Following the German surrender at the end of the war, the ship was returned to Poland under her old name. In 1947, Żuraw was modified for use as a hydrographical survey ship and renamed Kompas. She was broken up in 1981.Paadrema Nature Reserve
Paadrema Nature Reserve is a nature reserve situated in south-western Estonia, in Pärnu County.
The nature reserve of Paadrema is centred on Paadrema fen, surrounded by old-growth forest and swamps. Typical plants that grow in the area include several species of orchid and sweet gale. Among birds, white-tailed eagle, wwhite-spotted bluethroat, red-backed shrike and common crane can be found in the nature reserve.Pakistan Crane Center, Lakki Marwat
Crane Conservation Center and Wildlife Park, Lakki Marwat is a conservation center for the captive breeding of various types of wild birds and animal species. It is located west of Kurram River in Lakki Marwat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, 250 kilometres (155 mi) south of Peshawar. It was established in 2007. The center is equipped with a total of 15 circular aviaries and 20 cages as well as an education block for visitors. The center is now maintained and operated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department through the Bannu Wildlife Division, Bannu while its establishment was funded by WWF - Pakistan, GEF, UNDP and Darwin Initiative. A "Range Officer" of the wildlife department manages and co-ordinates the activities of the park. A wildlife vet, Dr. Adnan Khan , frequently visits the center in order to maintain healthy stock.
Lakki marwat is a seasonal migratory route for the cranes. Many residents in nearby towns and villages keep a number of cranes in captivity. These cranes are captured from the wild using stone-weighted ropes tossed up into flocks attracted to live decoys. The programme also aims to teach the advanced breeding methods to these breeders as part of conservation of endangered species of common crane. The total area of the park is 150 kanals.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department has established a Crane Conservation Centre and Wildlife park in Bannu Wildlife division. The site fulfills the following major objectives:
To rehabilitate endangered species under semi natural conditions.
To protect indigenous plants, birds and animals species.
To develop a gene pool of endangered wildlife species.
To raise the socio economic condition of the local people by promoting eco-tourism and providing job opportunities.
To create awareness amongst the local community especially the school students and general public.The following species of birds and animals are present in the park.
Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera)
Indian Blue spp
Black Shoulder spp
Purple neck sppCranes
Black crowned crane
Grey crowned craneDucks and geese
Northern pintailFlamigoes (Phoenicopterus)
Urial (Ovis vignei)
Hog deerTysjöarna Nature Reserve
Tysjöarna Nature Reserve (Swedish: Tysjöarnas naturreservat) is a nature reserve in Jämtland County in Sweden. It is part of the EU-wide Natura 2000-network, and has been designated as a Ramsar site since 2001.The nature reserve is an important resting area for migrating birds. Three towers for birdwatching have been built in the area. Species that are known to be found in Tysjöarna Nature Reserve include whooper swan, common crane, tufted duck, common goldeneye, little gull, northern lapwing and common redshank.WWT Washington
WWT Washington Wetland Centre is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Washington, Tyne and Wear, North East England.
Established in 1975, its wildlife includes swans, geese, ducks, a family of Asian short clawed otters and a flock of Chilean flamingos. WWT works towards the conservation of wetlands and has a successful breeding program for some of the world's most endangered wildfowl.
Included in the site is a nature reserve with hides to watch the wildlife, a saline lagoon and dragonfly ponds in which large species of dragonfly live along with newts, frogs and toads.
The park sells bags of seed which can be used to get an up-close and personal encounter with most of their birds whilst feeding them.
Species kept at the park include:
Black necked swan
White-faced whistling duck
15 living species in four genera