Crane (Gruidae) | Top Details, Characteristics & Amazing Facts

Crane Physical Characteristics

The crane is the tallest bird on Earth and can be found in most parts of the world except for Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica. Cranes are so tall that their legs can measure four feet long from the bottom of their feet to the tips of their toes! Their necks are just as long and can also measure up to four feet in length! Cranes can weigh from nine to thirteen pounds and can live up to twenty years in captivity but only five years in the wild. Like all birds, cranes have hollow bones, which makes them lightweight and able to fly long distances quickly.

Cranes are large birds of temperate regions with long legs and necks. They have stout bodies, strong feet, and slightly lobed wings. Their bills are slightly hooked at the tip and vary in size among species. While most cranes range from 4 to 5 feet in height (1.2 to 1.5 meters), some exceed 6 feet (.9 meters). The Siberian crane is an exception; it may reach heights of nearly 71⁄2 feet (2.3 meters). Even so, cranes usually appear even larger because they have relatively long legs relative to their body length. Cranes have wingspans of 3 to 9 feet (1 to 3 meters), depending on the species.

Crane Behaviour

A crane is a large, long-legged, and long-necked bird. Cranes are a group of birds found in the family Gruidae in suborder Gruiformes. There are 15 species of cranes in four genera. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched instead of pulled back and heads nodding instead of bobbing. They also have red or orange wattles on their heads. Most live in wetlands or marshes; however, arctic and tropical species are generally found near bodies of water respectively. And only one migrates over short distances when not breeding.

Cranes live in flocks and fly in arrow-shaped formations. Many species perform spectacular courtship dances. They feed on plants and small animals such as frogs, lizards, mice, and small snakes. They are very large birds with wingspans of up to 7 feet (2 m). The Chinese crane is among the most endangered cranes due to hunting for its beautiful plumes during peacock season. 

In ancient times in China, people admired these beautiful birds during peacock season because they thought they represented good luck; their eyes would protect them from evil spirits. The Chinese consider them symbols of honour and longevity; red means happiness; gold has a special place in every household because it is believed that gold can keep your family safe from any negative energies or spirits.


Physical Characteristics

Cranes are omnivores. As such, they feed on a wide variety of foods depending on what is available to them. They are known to eat small rodents, insects, and other invertebrates as well as plant matter. Seeds and grains make up a large portion of their diet in times when the grass is not readily available. Their long necks help to reach deeper into tall plants for food and their talons can tear open bark to get at wood-boring grubs or larvae. When fishing, they usually submerge their beaks into the water until it becomes full of food organisms then bring it back up above water so that they can consume it all.

Crane Habitat

Cranes live in a variety of habitats but are often found on grassy plains or marshes. The sandhill crane is native to North America and chooses as its habitat flat grassy areas that have freshwater lakes, ponds, or marshes nearby. Rufous-necked cranes live in South America in marshland close to fast-flowing rivers. 

Siberian cranes can be found along rivers with plenty of tall grass and plants where they nest. A family of Siberian cranes generally lives in one area for two or three years before moving to another place so their chicks can mature and learn survival skills from their parents before taking over a territory themselves. Some crane species may migrate long distances between their wintering grounds and breeding sites.

Crane 1 Nature info

Incredible Facts

  • Cranes are tall and long-legged wading birds. 
  • They can measure from 1.8 to 2.7 meters in height and weight from 3 to 10 kilograms, depending on species and sex. 
  • Cranes live for about 20 years in the wild; for some species, however, a lifespan of more than 40 years has been recorded in captivity. 
  • Cranes feed mainly on plant matter, although insects or animal flesh form part of their diet too. 
  • On average, an adult crane consumes at least three kilograms of food per day. 
  • An amazing ability these beautiful birds have is their capacity to cool down their body temperature when exposed to heat during hot weather. 
  • Their skin is pale and featherless; thus, they have limited abilities to retain body heat—allowing them to withstand cold temperatures as well! There is no consensus among scientists as to whether cranes engage in courtship dances during mating season. 
  • However, most biologists agree that cranes dance with their heads held up high and feathers fluffed out during mating seasons because it signals other members of their group that they’re available for breeding!


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