Sarus Crane Grus antigone
- Grus : Latin word for Crane
- Antigone: Greek Mythology – Daughter of King Laomedon of Troy, who was metamorphosed into a stork for presuming to compare herself to the goddess Hera
Vernacular Names: Hindi: Sarus, Sans: Bharat Sarus, Pun: Saras, Ass: Khur sang, Mani: Woinu, Woinuren, Guj: Saras, Mar: Sarus, Te: Sarusu konga
They are the Tallest flying Birds in the world
Distribution in India: Resident of North West of India.
Description: Size of 152–176 cm; wt. of 6800–12,240 g; wingspan of 220–280 cm. The adult is very large with grey wings and body; a bare red head and part of the upper neck; a greyish crown; and a long greenish-grey pointed bill. In flight, the long neck is held straight, unlike that of an heron, which folds it back, and the black wing tips can be seen; the crane’s long pink legs trail behind them. This bird has a grey ear covert patch, an orange-red iris and a greenish-grey bill. The bare red skin of the adult’s head and neck is brighter during the breeding season. This skin is rough and covered by papillae, and a narrow area around and behind the head is covered by black bristly feathers. The sexes do not differ in plumage although males are on average larger than females. The juvenile is tinged brown, head and neck are feathered.
Habitat:It is found in canals, irrigation ditches, village ponds, shallow marshes, lakes and cultivated and fallow fields. The natural wetlands are preferred to rice paddies as nesting habitat
Food Habits: They eat sedge tubers, other wetland plants, upland grasses and groundnuts, waste rice and other grains; also snails, crustaceans, grasshoppers and other insects, fish, frogs, snakes and other small vertebrates. Walks along slowly with head down, searching for food; does not dig. Forages in both wetlands and uplands.
Breeding Habits: Breeds in July –Sept. Sarus cranes have loud trumpeting calls. These calls are, as in other cranes, produced by the elongated trachea that form coils within the sternal region. Pairs may indulge in spectacular displays of calling in unison and posturing. These include “dancing” movements that are performed both during and outside the breeding season and involve a short series of jumping and bowing movements made as one of the pair circles around the other. Dancing may also be a displacement activity when the nest or young are threatened .They build large nests, platforms made of reeds and vegetation in wet marshes or paddy fields The nest is constructed within shallow water by piling up rushes, straw, grasses with their roots and mud so that the platform rises above the level of the water to form a little island. The nest is unconcealed and conspicuous, being visible from afar, and defended fiercely by the pair. Pairs shows high fidelity to the nest site, often refurbishing and reusing nests for as many as five breeding seasons. It lays a clutch of one or two eggs which are incubated by both sexes for about 31 days when disturbed from the nest, parents may sometimes attempt to conceal the eggs by attempting to cover them with material from the edge of the nest. The eggshells are removed by the parents after the chicks hatch either by carrying away the fragments or by swallowing them. The chicks are fed by the parents for the first few days, but are able to feed independently after that and follow their parents for food. When alarmed, the parent cranes use a low korr-rr call that signals chicks to freeze and lie still. Young birds stay with their parents until the subsequent breeding season