Red-Crowned Crane

Red Crowned Crane Dance

Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) is a large crane named after the red crown on its head. The bird is called Xian He in Chinese (‘xian’ means fairy and ‘he’ means crane). This crane is the second rarest crane in the world. Like other kinds of cranes, the neck , the beak and the legs of this bird are also long. Red-crowned crane can live to the age of 50 – 60.

Endangered Species

At the beginning of the 20th, red-crowned cranes almost became fashion victims. They were hunted to the brink of extinction so that their beautiful plumage could be used to adorn hats and other fashion accessories. Today, hunting these birds is illegal. Red-crowned crane has also been included in the list of the State’s first-class protected animals. Their estimated population is about 1,500 in the wild.

Physical Description

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Their breeding seasons last for 6 months (March – September). The female usually lay eggs one time a year with 2 – 4 eggs each time. Both the female and male cranes share in incubation which lasts 31 – 32 days. The male crane takes the primary role in defending their nest against possible danger. The body of the nestling is brown in color with yellow beak. Sub adult is a combination of white, cinnamon brown, partly tawny and grayish plumage. When it reaches maturity, except for its black flight feathers and black neck, most of its body is pure white with a patch of red skin on the crown of its head. When the crane becomes excited or angry, the red patch of the skin will become bright red. As the bird grows older, this red patch of the skin will also become brighter and brighter.

Red-crowned crane is the only crane species that have white primary feathers. This species is the heaviest crane, the maximum known weight of red-crowned crane (male) is 15 kg. The females and males are virtually indistinguishable, although the males tend to be slightly larger in size.

Diet, Mating and Characteristics

The red-crowned cranes migrate every year between their breeding grounds and wintering grounds. The bird’s habitat are marshes and marshy grasslands. Red-crowned crane eats small fish, aquatic invertebrates, insects, shrimps and rootstocks of some plants, varying according to seasons.

When moulting, these birds are not able to fly temporarily. An adult red-crowned crane will moult twice a year, in spring the bird moults to summer plumage and in fall the bird moults to winter plumage. The red-crowned cranes seem to dance more thann other species of cranes.

The calls of red-crowned cranes are clear and loud, which can be used to define their territory. It is an important way of their communication during the mating season. The red-crowned cranes begin to choose their spouses at the beginning of April. The bird will usually remain mated for life once a firm pair bond has been established (although they will replace a mate that has died).