Demoiselle Crane

Demoiselle crane    Grus virgo


  • Grus : Latin word for Crane
  • Virgo : Latin word for Maiden

Vernacular Names:  Sind: Koonj, Hindi: Karkara, Sans: Khr kronch, Pun: Kunj, Bi: Kurra, Nepal: Ghanto, Guj: Karkaro, Kutch: Koonj, Mar: Karkocha, Karkara kronch, Ori: Garara, Te: Vada koraka, Kor koncha, Kan: Karkoncha

Distribution in India: Winter visitor in West and North India

Description: Size of 90-100 -cm. It is the smallest crane in India. Male slightly larger than female. Only cranes with entirely feathered head, and lacking red skin on head. It is u, except for black head and neck, black-tipped secondaries, and distinctive white ear tufts extending from behind eye to upper nape; elongated black plumage of fore neck hangs down below breast. The Iris is reddish orange.  The juvenile is duller grey with paler head and neck, but darker throat and foreneck; ear-tufts are less distinct.

Habitat: Found primarily in savanna, steppe and other grassland types, often in close proximity to streams, shallow lakes and other wetlands. Inhabits semi-desert and true deserts where water is available

Food Habits:  They eat seeds of grasses and other plant materials. They also eat insects, beetles worms, lizards and other small vertebrates. Walks slowly while foraging. Large flocks at migration staging areas and in Indian wintering grounds forage in cultivated fields

Breeding Habits: Breeds in May-June. Like most cranes, this species displays indefinite monogamous pair bonds Nest is minimally prepared in open patches of grass, in cultivated areas, or on gravel; pebbles and some plant material may be gathered, but eggs are often laid directly on ground. It lays a clutch of two eggs. The incubation period is 27–29 days. The fledging period is 55–65 days, the shortest period in any crane.

Demoiselle cranes have to take one of the toughest migrations in the world. In late August through September, they gather in flocks of up to 400 individuals and prepare for their flight to their winter range. During their migratory flight south, demoiselles fly like all cranes, with their head and neck straight forward and their feet and legs straight behind, reaching altitudes of 16,000–26,000 feet (4,900–7,900 meters). Along their arduous journey they have to cross the Himalayan mountains to get to their over-wintering grounds in India. Many die from fatigue, hunger and predation from golden eagles