Common crane

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The common crane (Grus grus) is a medium-sized crane belonging to the family, Gruidae. The common crane is also known as the Eurasian crane. It is distributed in the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Africa and Europe. There are two recognized subspecies of these crane species.

Taxonomy of Common crane

  • Scientific Name: Grus grus
  • Common Name: Common crane
  • French: Grue cendrée; German: Kranich; Spanish: Grulla común;
  • Other names: Ardea Grus Linnaeus, 1758; Eurasian Crane; Grus turfa Portis, 1884
  • Family: Rallidae › Gruiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
The two recognized subspecies of Grus grus are: G. g. grus (Linnaeus, 1758) and G. g. archibaldi Ilyashenko & Ghasabyan, 2008. Grus grus was earlier included in genus Ardea.


The common crane is a medium-sized crane, measuring 100 to 130 cm in height and weighing 3,000 to 6,000 grams. The wingspan is 180 to 240 cm. The overall plumage is slaty gray. The forehead and the region between eye and the bill (lore) are dark, blackish. The crown is bare and red. A white streak extends from behind eyes to the upper back. The primary feathers, the tips of secondary feathers, the tip of the tail are black. The iris is orange and the pointed beak is grayish yellow. The long legs of the crane are pinkish gray. Their call is a loud piercing trumpeting sound.
Birds of India - Common crane - Grus grus
Indian birds - Common crane - Grus grus
Indian birds - Common crane - Grus grus
Birds of India - Common crane - Grus grus
Birds of India - Common crane - Grus grus
Indian birds - Common crane - Grus grus (by Ken Billington)
Indian birds - Common crane - Grus grus
Birds of India - Common crane - Grus grus


These crane species inhabit taiga forest (boreal forest or snow forest), shallow wetlands, swampy openings among pine forests, wooded swamps, treeless moors or bogs, flooded plains, paddy fields and pastures.

Diet and feeding habits

These species are omnivorous. The primary diet of these crane species is plant matter like rhizomes, seeds, sprouts, roots, tubers, stems, shoots and leaves. They are known to feed on agricultural crops like peas, potatoes, olives and pods of peanuts. They also feed on insects, frogs, crabs, rodents and small birds.


These crane species usually breed during May. They form long-lasting pair-bonds and are highly territorial during the breeding season. The pair build a large nest, sometimes nearly one meters in diameter. Grass and reeds are used for nest building. It is constructed high enough to keep out the surrounding water. Normally two eggs are laid in the nest. Incubation is mostly done by the female. The chicks hatch out in 30 days. The chicks are fed by the parents for a few days and then the chicks start following the parent and become independent in feeding.


The crane subspecies G. g. grus is distributed in East Europe, Far east Russia and Northeast China. This population winters in France, Spain, Portugal, North Africa, Middle East countries, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Southeast China. The subspecies G. g. archibaldi is distributed in Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran.

Movement and migration Patterns

The common crane is a fully migratory species. The wintering migration occurs during July to early September. The return migration to breeding grounds occurs during late-April.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population of these crane species is estimated to be around 360,000 to 370,000 individual birds. The overall population trend is uncertain as there is decline in some populations and in others there is increase in number. The degradation and loss of wetlands and marshes due to human activities like agricultural expansion and dam construction, disturbance from tourism and recreation, pesticide poisoning, hunting and collisions with power lines are the major threats to the survival of these crane species.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these common crane species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Grus grus
Species:G. grus
Binomial name:Grus grus
Distribution:Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Africa and Asia;
Diet and feeding habits:omnivorous diet; primarily plant matter like rhizomes, seeds, sprouts, roots, tubers, stems, shoots, leaves; agricultural crops like peas, potatoes, olives and pods of peanuts.; also insects, frogs, crabs, rodents and small birds;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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