Red Crowned Crane

Red crowned cranes are one of the rarest species of cranes in the world, still struggling to uphold their striking beauty into existence. These species are East Asian cranes, also known as Manchurian cranes and Japanese cranes. These species are the largest amongst its family. The bird species is named as red crowned crane because of its red patch on its head, enhancing their beauty even more.

Scientific Classification

Grus japonensis

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Grus japonensis


Picture 1 – Red Crowned Crane With A Young One

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Description & Anatomy


The bird has a red patch on the crown of its head, hence the name given as red crowned crane.

Eyes: Red crowned cranes have small, round, and dark eyes.

Beak: The species has light greyish, long, hard, pointed beaks.

Neck: Red crowned crane bird has typically crane like long and thin neck. The neck is black till it reaches the head.

Body: The entire body of the red crowned crane is snow white. At the end of the trunk, near its tail, it has jet black feathers.

Wings: The bird has long feathery wings on both sides of its body.

Legs: These cranes have long and thin legs, with pointy fingers.

Height: Usually the Red crowned cranes are 62inches tall.

Weight: An average grown up Red crowned crane weighs between 7.5kg and 10.5kg.


The crane species are associated to many species of birds like trumpeters, bustards, and limpkins. The crane species is categorized into 2 types –

  1. Typical Cranes
  2. Crowned Cranes

Though this species is called red crowned crane, but it actually belongs to the Typical Crane genera. Red crowned cranes are DNA wise most remotely associated to the other kinds of the typical crane species.

Behavior & Characteristics

This species of cranes differ in behavior from other cranes in some ways as well as familiarize with them in many ways.

  • Red crowned cranes are very much aquatic in nature. They have a huge residential range near aquatic bodies. They also nest and hunt near paddy fields, freshwater marshes, and other cultivated lands.
  • Unlike other species of crane family, Red crowned cranes eat from a much deeper dive in water.
  • This species of cranes can very well adapt themselves to extremely low temperature.
  • The Red crowned cranes indulge in unison calling.
  • They stand with their heads leaned back posture.
  • The female Red crowned cranes keep their wings closed to their bodies during the unison calling, unlike the males, who spread their wings at that time.
  • To every one call of the male Red crowned cranes, the females respond in twin calls.
  • Some of the excitements of the Red crowned cranes are expressed through dancing, running, flapping wings, jumping, twig-tossing, and bowing elegantly.
  • These cranes fly as well.

Dance & Flight

Red crowned cranes are well known and extremely admired for heir gracious dancing skills. Dancing marks a very special behavioral trait of the Red crowned cranes. They have been observed to dance elegantly with their wings spread graciously. The dancing is a confirmation of their happily courtship period. They also dance at times to vent out their tension. But the most observed rationale behind their dance is to declare, express happiness, and strengthen the bond of courtship.

The Red crowned cranes fly like other cranes, but due to their heavy weight they cannot fly as fast as other species of the family tree.

Distribution & Range

Wetlands are the native lands of Red crowned cranes. Korean peninsula, Japan, and China are the main residence of the species. Parts of southeast Siberia and north of Manchuria are also graced by the presence of this exotic species of bird. Their range does not envelop a large area, but they are migratory in nature and thus can be seen in warmer pats of the world during their off seasons, the species is accustomed to quite low temperature.


The Red crowned cranes fly their way to Siberia, north-east part of Mongolia, and north-east China during springs and summers. During the fall they flock their way back to east-central of China, and Korea.

The resident population of the species nests in eastern parts of Hokkaido, Japan.


The Red crowned crane inhabit in wetlands. They usually nestle in and around marshy lands, rice fields, river banks, and other wet and damp areas.


Picture 2 – Red Crowned Crane Picture

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This species of birds are not much choosy when it comes to food. They feed on many small vertebrates and invertebrates. They mostly diet on small worms, aquatic weeds, aquatic invertebrates, crabs, etc.

During winters the Red crowned cranes diet on rice at the paddy fields.

Predators & Adaptation

In the wild every animal has a predator of it. Red crowned crane’s huge size and pointy, hard beak helps it elude predators. The beak and the large body of the species is the most helpful feature in adapting itself to the nature and its threats.


Studies show that only 2750 Red crowned cranes are still existent. This estimation includes both resident and migratory birds.

Life Span

The exact life span of Red crowned crane is not known. Specially the wild ones are nothing known about regarding life span. Studies showed that the species survived more than 60years when bred in captivity. Research concluded near to the fact that these birds live about 30years in wild. But nothing can be assured with certainty.

Mating & Reproduction

Red crowned cranes are life-long monogamous in nature. They reach reproductive maturity by the age of 4yrs to 5yrs. They mostly breed in north of Manchuria and south-east part of Manchuria. The time span is usually end of March and entire April.

At an interval of 2 to 4 days the Red crowned crane lays an egg. The eggs are nurtured by both the male and female Red crowned cranes for a period of 29 to 31days.

Conservation Status: Endangered

This stunning species of birds are extremely endangered these days. Studies show there are only 2750 Red crowned cranes still existing. There are some serious issues as to the reason of their existence threat.

  • Their habitats are at stake due to growing human population and deforestation to accommodate the humans.
  • Rivers are being channelized to provide for more cultivable lands, and the channels do not always cross through suitable lands for the Red crowned cranes. Thus they get less food supply in their suited land since the food supply also gets dispersed with channelization of rivers. They can neither go to the channelized zones of the rivers.
  • The food grains they feed on are also a threat to their lives. Farmers use harmful pesticides on the crops and those are directly eaten by these cranes. This acts as slow poising to the Red crowned cranes.
  • Due to their huge size and body weight, the Red crowned cranes cannot fly as fast as other cranes. They also collide often with the human world utility arrangements, like electrical wires, etc.

The ICF has taken up the responsibility of conserving this exotic species of bird. Agreements are being settled at for conserving the water bodies n the areas of their migration period. Arrangements are also being taken care of so that their natural habitats are not disturbed for human density accommodation.

Interesting Facts

This marvelous species of bird is not only an awe-inspiring beauty, it also has some very interesting facts about its nature and behavioral ways.

  • Though the species is called Red crowned crane, still it does not belong to the crowned crane genera. It belongs to the typical crane species.
  • The red patch on the crown of their heads for which they are called Red crowned cranes, glows and gets brighter and deeper red when the birds are angry, excited, or tempted.
  • Red crowned cranes are renowned dancers. They are very elegant in behavioral traits.
  • They are the heaviest and largest sub-species of the crane family tree.
  • Red crowned cranes are well accustomed to very low temperature. A part of the red crowned crane population is migratory and a part is resident.
  • This species of bird is monogamous in nature throughout their life span.

Not much is known about petting this erotic species of bird personally, but the zoos that treasure Red crowned cranes, rakes extra care on their conservation. Their vivacious and elegant ways of expressing happiness, their gracious social ways like bowing, etc. are adds on to their captivating beauty.



Picture 3 – Red Crowned Crane Unison Calling

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Picture 4 – Red Crowned Crane In Dance

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2 thoughts on “Red Crowned Crane

  1. mark bock says:

    What a wonderful job on providing a full description of this beautiful bird, its’ endangerment, nature & behavior. Thank you. This is the best web site providing such insight on creatures of the wild kingdom.

  2. Alex says:

    This website has great facts about animals.

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