Common Crane

Common crane  Grus grus

Etymology :

  • Grus : Latin word for Crane
  • Grus : Latin word for Crane

Vernacular Names : Sind: Koonj, Hindi: Kraunch, Kronch, Pun: Waddi kunj, Guj: Kunj, Ori: Krunch, Tel: Kulam, Kulang, Kulangu konga, Mar: Samanya kraunch

Distribution in India: Winter visitor in North and Central India

Description: Size of 95–125 cm; wt. of male 5100–6100 g, female 4500–5900 g; wingspan 180–200 cm. It has a Slate grey body, with black primaries; dark head has white stripe starting behind eye and extending down nape; red skin patch on crown; iris yellow to orange. Both sexes are similar. The juvenile has crown feathered; body plumage is tipped with yellowish brown feathers, upperparts have brown cast, no black tips to ‘bustle’ and flight feathers uniform and rather tapered. In second year attains adult-like head and body feathers, but crown is not as bare, and tertials and wing-coverts may be still worn and brownish.

Habitat: It is found in shallow wetlands, including forested swamps (especially of birch and alder), sedge meadows and bogs.  Undisturbed wetlands not influenced by hunting and sufficiently distant from human activities are primarily selected as roost-sites

Food Habits: They eat plant parts like roots, rhizomes, tubers, stems, shoots, leaves, berries, seeds of emergent wetland plants, grasses, forbs and crop plants; also eats acorns, nuts, legumes and waste grain. Animal items more frequent in summer diet: mainly invertebrates, including worms, snails, insects and other arthropods; also frogs, snakes, lizards, fish and rodents. Forages on land and in water by probing and picking

Breeding Habits: Breeds in May-June. 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. 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. 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 clutch has two eggs. 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. 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 stabilize them while running, while by 9 weeks of age they can fly short distances. The adult birds go through their post breeding 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.