craneGruidae) is the common name of the birds belonging to the family of gruiform birds. It has a large size and an elongated beak that inhabits the whole world. There are currently 15 different species of cranes, but despite having a similar appearance they are not related to the herons.

Crane in profile

Crane in profile


The Gruidae includes 15 species grouped into 4 genera:

  • Gender Balearica
    • Gray-necked crowned crane (Balearica regulorum)
    • Black crowned crane (Balearica pavonina)
  • Gender Anthropoides
    • Damsel Crane (Anthropoides virgo)
    • Paradise crane (Anthropoides paradisea)
  • Genus Bugeranus
    • Carunculated crane (Bugeranus carunculatus)
  • Genus Grus
    • Carunculated crane (Grus leucogeranus)
    • Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis)
    • Sarus crane (Grus antigone)
    • Brolga crane (Red Crane)
    • White-necked crane (Grus vipio)
    • Common crane (Grus grus)
    • Monk crane (Grus monacha)
    • Trumpeting crane (American Grus)
    • Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis)
    • Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis)


The crane, in general, are quite large birds growing on average up to one meter in height. Although there are small cranes and other tall ones like the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) that can measure 1,5 m and can weigh 12 kg (before migrating). They have long legs and necks with a streamlined body and large rounded wings. There is no sexual dimorphism between males and females, but males are usually slightly larger.

The plumage varies according to the place where it lives. Species that live in large, open wetlands tend to have white plumage, and those that live in smaller wetlands or forest habitats have gray plumage. The largest species coincide with those with white plumage. It is thought that the smaller size and color of the species that inhabit forest environments is due to the fact that the gray color helps them go unnoticed while they nest. Species with white plumage, while nesting, wrap themselves in mud to camouflage themselves with their environment.

Despite their huge body they are very skilled at flying time. They fly with the neck extended to control their body well when they are flying.


Almost all species have an area of ​​bare skin on the face, with the exceptions of the Damsel Crane (Anthropoides virgo) and the paradise crane (Anthropoides paradisea), both belonging to the genus Anthropoides. The skin is used to communicate with other cranes and can be expanded by contracting and relaxing it and changing the intensity of the color. The head feathers can be shifted and moved on the Damsel and Paradise Cranes.

Positioning of the trachea is also important for communication. In the two cranes of the genus Balearica the trachea is shorter and only slightly attached to the sternum bone, while the rest of the cranes have a long trachea and penetrates the sternum. In other species, the sternum is fused with the bony plates of the trachea, which helps them amplify the calls made by the crane, allowing them to travel several kilometers.


The crane needs large shallow open space wetlands, as they use them for nesting. Some species nest within wetlands but move their young into the grasslands to feed (while returning to the wetlands at night), while remaining in the wetlands throughout the breeding season.

Even the two cranes of the genus Anthropoides that are capable of nesting and feeding in grasslands, arid grasslands and deserts, require wetlands to rest at night. The only two species that do not need wetlands are those of the Balearica genus that perch in trees.

Crane in wetlands

Crane in wetlands


The crane is present on all continents, except for Antarctica and mysteriously South America. In the Asian continent, the greatest diversity is found with eight species, followed by Africa with five resident species that increases by six in summer with migrations. Australia, Europe and North America have two species.

Of the four genera of cranes, Balearica is restricted to Africa, and Leucogeranus is restricted to Asia; the other two genera, Grus (including Anthropoides and Bugeranus) and Antigone, are spread over all continents.

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Certain species of cranes are sedentary and remain in the same area throughout the year, while others carry out migrations, traveling thousands of kilometers every year from their breeding sites. Some species have sedentary and migratory populations.


The crane is a omnivorous bird, so it eats both plants and animals. As they spend their lives near water, they feed on aquatic animals such as insects, fish and amphibians, as well as plants such as cereals and tree bark.


The crane has few native predators within its habitat, due to its large size. The main predators are foxes and wildcats. Large raptors like owls and eagles are also predators, though they prefer easier prey like their young.


The crane breeds in the summer months, when the temperature is warmer. The exact temperature that determines the onset of reproduction varies between species. The female builds large nests in the hollows of the trees and lays between 3 and 5 eggs. When they hatch they are raised by their parents until they are able to fly away from the family nucleus.

Cranes couple

Cranes couple

State of conservation

Many species of cranes are listed as vulnerable or endangered species. The population shortage is due to the loss of their habitat due to pollution and deforestation of their native environments.

Popular culture

This animal is deeply rooted in the popular culture of many countries since the beginning of time. In ancient cultures they were symbols of prudence and vigilance.

According to naturalists, when a crane arrives at a place, they keep on the lookout so as not to be surprised by the dream, leaving themselves supported by one foot and in the other they have a stone. If the stone falls, it will wake you up. And by attribute she has been granted vigilance. Cranes bring good luck to Asian countries like Japan and China.

Especially in Japan, the crane has been kept generation after generation as a symbol of luck, happiness and long life. Since ancient times the tradition of the SENBAZURU, which consists of making origami "Thousand Cranes" when you want a sick relative to recover. It became popular when, in the XNUMXth century, after the bombing of Hiroshima a girl named Sadako Sasaki who became ill with radiation leukemia, dedicated himself to making a thousand paper cranes to heal himself. Finally, the girl died and the city of Hiroshima dedicated a monument to her in the shape of a crane.

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