Fine Art

Grus grus

Grus grus (*)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Ordo: Gruiformes

Familia: Gruidae
Subfamilia: Gruinae
Genus: Grus
Species: Grus grus

Grus grus (Linnaeus, 1758)


Ardea grus (protonym)
Grus grus archibaldi
Grus grus lilfordi


Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Editio Decima, Reformata. Tomus I. Holmiæ (Stockholm): impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii. 824 pp. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.542 BHL pages 141–142 BHL Reference page.

Vernacular names
Afrikaans: Kraanvoël
aragonés: Gruda común
العربية: كركي شائع
asturianu: Grulla
авар: Къункъра
azərbaycanca: Boz durna
башҡортса: Һоро торна
беларуская: Шэры журавель
български: Сив жерав
brezhoneg: Garan louet
català: Grua
нохчийн: Ǵaraǵuli
kaszëbsczi: Trulôcz
čeština: Jeřáb popelavý
чӑвашла: Сăрă тăрна
Cymraeg: Garan
dansk: Trane
Deutsch: Kranich
Ελληνικά: Γερανός
English: Common Crane
Esperanto: Cindra gruo
español: Grulla Común
eesti: Sookurg
euskara: Kurrilo arrunt
suomi: Kurki
føroyskt: Trani
Nordfriisk: Kraanek
français: Grue cendrée
Frysk: Kraan
Gaeilge: Corr mhóna
Gàidhlig: Corra mhonaich
galego: Grou
Gaelg: Groose
עברית: עגור אפור
hrvatski: Sivi ždral
magyar: Daru
հայերեն: Մոխրագույն Կռունկ
íslenska: Grátrana
italiano: Gru
日本語: クロヅル
ქართული: რუხი წერო
қазақша: Сұр тырна
한국어: 검은목두루미
kurdî: Quling
коми: Тури
kernowek: Garan
кыргызча: Ак турна
Latina: Grus
Lëtzebuergesch: Horgäns
Limburgs: Kroenekraan
lietuvių: Pilkoji gervė
latviešu: Dzērve
македонски: Жерав
монгол: Тогоруу
Malti: Grawwa
Nedersaksies: Krön
Plattdüütsch: Kraan
Nederlands: Kraanvogel
norsk nynorsk: Trane
norsk: Trane
ирон: Хърихъупп
polski: Żuraw
Piemontèis: Grùa
پنجابی: عام کرین
português: Grou-comum
rumantsch: Gru grisch
română: Cocor
русский: Серый журавль
sicilianu: Groi
Scots: Crane
sardu: Fusellu
davvisámegiella: Goarga
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ždral
slovenčina: Žeriav popolavý
slovenščina: Navadni žerjav
shqip: Krilla
српски / srpski: Ždral / Ждрал
svenska: Trana
Kiswahili: Korongo paji-jeusi
ไทย: นกกระเรียนยุโรป
Türkmençe: Ak durna
Türkçe: Turna
татарча/tatarça: Aq turna
українська: Журавель сірий
Tiếng Việt: Sếu cổ trắng
Zeêuws: Kraenveugel
中文: 灰鹤

The common crane (Grus grus), also known as the Eurasian crane, is a bird of the family Gruidae, the cranes. A medium-sized species, it is the only crane commonly found in Europe besides the demoiselle crane (Grus virgo) and the Siberian crane (Leucogeranus leucogeranus). Along with the sandhill (Antigone canadensis) and demoiselle cranes and the brolga (Antigone rubicunda), it is one of only four crane species not currently classified as threatened with extinction or conservation dependent on the species level. Despite the species' large numbers, local extinctions and extirpations have taken place in part of its range, and an ongoing reintroduction project is underway in the United Kingdom.[3]


The first formal description of the common crane was by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Ardea grus.[4] The current genus Grus was erected by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760.[5] Grus is the Latin word for a "crane".[6]
Common crane (Grus grus)

The common crane is a large, stately bird and a medium-sized crane. It is 100–130 cm (39–51 in) long with a 180–240 cm (71–94 in) wingspan. The body weight can range from 3 to 6.1 kg (6.6 to 13.4 lb), with the nominate subspecies averaging around 5.4 kg (12 lb) and the eastern subspecies (G. g. lilfordi) averaging 4.6 kg (10 lb). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 50.7–60.8 cm (20.0–23.9 in) long, the tarsus is 20.1–25.2 cm (7.9–9.9 in) and the exposed culmen is 9.5–11.6 cm (3.7–4.6 in).

Males are slightly heavier and larger than females, with weight showing the largest sexual size dimorphism, followed by wing, central toe, and head length in adults and juveniles.[7]

This species is slate-grey overall. The forehead and lores are blackish with a bare red crown and a white streak extending from behind the eyes to the upper back. The overall colour is darkest on the back and rump and palest on the breast and wings. The primaries, the tips of secondaries, the alula, the tip of the tail, and the edges of upper tail coverts are all black and the greater coverts droop into explosive plumes. This combination of colouration ultimately distinguishes it from similar species in Asia, like the hooded (G. monacha) and black-necked cranes (G. nigricollis). The juvenile has yellowish-brown tips to its body feathers and lacks the drooping wing feathers and the bright neck pattern of the adult, and has a fully feathered crown. Every two years, before migration, the adult common crane undergoes a complete moult, remaining flightless for six weeks, until the new feathers grow.

It has a loud trumpeting call, given in flight and display. The call is piercing and can be heard from a considerable distance. It has a dancing display, leaping with wings uplifted, described in detail below.
Distribution and migration
Flock of common cranes flying over Castilla, Spain, during their winter migration

This species is found in the northern parts of Europe and across the Palearctic to Siberia. Formerly the species was spread as far west as Ireland, but about 200 years ago, it became extinct there. However, it has since started to return to Ireland naturally and there are now plans to help it return to Ireland on a greater scale. The common crane is an uncommon breeder in southern Europe, smaller numbers breeding in Greece, former-Yugoslavia, Romania, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Larger breeding populations can be found in Scandinavia, especially Finland and Sweden. The heart of the breeding population for the species is in Russia, however, where possibly up to 100,000 cranes of this species can be found seasonally. It is distributed as a breeder from Ukraine to the Chukchi Peninsula in Russia. The breeding population extends as far south as Manchuria but almost the entire Asian breeding population is restricted to Russia. Approximately 48-50 breeding pairs exist in the UK, with population centres in Somerset and Norfolk. In May 2021, ecologists in Ireland got excited and optimistic that a pair of common cranes, which have arrived in the midlands, will become the first to breed there in over 300 years.[8]

The species is a long distance migrant predominantly wintering in northern Africa. Autumn migration is from August to October in the breeding areas, but from late October to early December at the wintering sites. Spring migration starts in February at wintering sites up to early March,[9][10] but from March through May at the breeding areas. Migration phenology of common cranes is changing due to climate change.[11] Important staging areas occur anywhere from Sweden, The Netherlands and Germany to China (with a large one around the Caspian Sea) and many thousand cranes can be seen in one day in the Autumn. Some birds winter in southern Europe, including Portugal, Spain and France. Most eastern common cranes winter in the river valleys of Sudan, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Eritrea with smaller numbers in Turkey, northern Israel, Iraq and parts of Iran. The third major wintering region is in the northern half of Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan. Minimal wintering also occurs in Burma, Vietnam and Thailand. Lastly, they winter in eastern China, where they are often the most common crane (outnumbering black-necked cranes ten-to-one). Migrating flocks fly in a "V" formation.

It is a rare visitor to Japan and Korea, mostly blown over from the Chinese wintering population, and is a rare vagrant to western North America, where birds are occasionally seen with flocks of migrating sandhill cranes.
Common cranes in Osmussaar, Estonia. Wetlands are preferred habitats for the cranes.

In Europe, the common crane predominantly breeds in boreal and taiga forest and mixed forests, from an elevation of sea-level to 2,200 m (7,200 ft). In northern climes, it breeds in treeless moors, on bogs, or on dwarf heather habitats, usually where small lakes or pools are also found. In Sweden, breeders are usually found in small, swampy openings amongst pine forests, while in Germany, marshy wetlands are used. Breeding habitat used in Russia are similar, though they can be found nesting in less likely habitat such as steppe and even semi-desert, so long as water is near. Primarily, the largest number of common cranes are found breeding in wooded swamps, bogs and wetlands and seem to require quiet, peaceful environs with minimal human interference. They occur at low density as breeders even where common, typically ranging from 1 to 5 pairs per 100 km2 (39 sq mi).

In winter, this species moves to flooded areas, shallow sheltered bays, and swampy meadows. During the flightless moulting period there is a need for shallow waters or high reed cover for concealment. Later, after the migration period, the birds winter regularly in open country, often on cultivated lands and sometimes also in savanna-like areas, for example on the Iberian Peninsula.[12]

The common crane is omnivorous, as are all cranes. It largely eats plant matter, including roots, rhizomes, tubers, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds. They also commonly eat, when available, pond-weeds, heath berries, peas, potatoes, olives, acorns, cedarnuts and pods of peanuts. Notably amongst the berries consumed, the cranberry, is possibly named after the species.[citation needed]

Animal foods become more important during the summer breeding season and may be the primary food source at that time of year, especially while regurgitating to young. Their animal foods are insects, especially dragonflies, and also snails, earthworms, crabs, spiders, millipedes, woodlice, amphibians, rodents, and small birds.

Common cranes may either forage on land or in shallow water, probing around with their bills for any edible organism. Although crops may locally be damaged by the species, they mostly consume waste grain in winter from previously harvested fields and so actually benefit farmers by cleaning fields for use in the following year.[13] As with other cranes, all foraging (as well as drinking and roosting) is done in small groups, which may variously consist of pairs, family groups or winter flocks.
The long coiled trachea (TR) penetrating the sternum (S, K, A) produces the trumpeting calls of the crane. L on the left - lungs, LA - larynx, L on the right - tongue.

This species usually lays eggs in May, though seldom will do so earlier or later. 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. Although a pair may be together for several years, the courtship rituals of the species are enacted by every pair each spring. 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.
Egg on the nest

The nesting territory of common cranes is variable and is based on the local habitat. It can range in size from variously 2 to 500 ha (4.9 to 1,235.5 acres). In common with sandhill cranes (and no other crane species), 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 size and placement of the nest varies considerably over the range, with Arctic birds building relatively small nests. In Sweden, an average nest is around 90 cm (35 in) across.

The clutch of the common crane usually contains two eggs, with seldom one laid and, even more rarely, 3 or 4. 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. If humans approach the nest both parents may engage in a distraction display but known ground predators (including domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)) are physically attacked almost immediately.

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 stabilise them while running, while by 9 weeks of age they can fly short distances. The adult birds go through their postbreeding 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. According to figures of cranes wintering in Spain, around 48% birds have surviving young by the time they winter and around 18% are leading two young by winter. By the next breeding season, the previous years young often flock together. The age of sexual maturity in wild birds has been estimated at variously from 3 to 6 years of age.
A pair of common cranes showing the specific mating behavior

This species could live up to 30 or 40 years of age.[14] But the data on longevity (43 years) and life expectancy (12 years, N=7 cranes) were published with captive cranes.[15] Common cranes living in the wild must show shorter lives. Successful breeders, the best subjects in the population, are guessed to live on average 12 years.[16] Unsuccessful breeding cranes, therefore, may have shorter lives. Elementary survival analysis with the Euring database[17] reports a life expectancy at birth (LEB) of c. 5 years.[18] This LEB of 5 years was similar to that estimated for other crane species, as for example the Florida Sandhill cranes (G. canadensis) (LEB = 7 years).[19] Reports of tagged common cranes have increased rapidly in the last decades.[20] Therefore, longevity and life expectancy at birth of wild common cranes will be updated.

The common crane is a fairly social bird while not breeding. Flocks of up to 400 birds may be seen flying together during migration. Staging sites, where migrating birds gather to rest and feed in the middle of their migration, may witness thousands of cranes gathering at once. However, the flocks of the species are not stable social units but rather groups that ensure greater safety in numbers and collectively draw each other's attention to ideal foraging and roosting sites.[21] Possibly due to a longer molt, younger and non-breeding cranes are usually the earliest fall migrants and may band together at that time of year. During these migratory flights, common cranes have been known to fly at altitudes of up to 33,000 ft (10,000 m), one of the highest of any species of bird, second only to the Ruppell's Griffin Vulture.[22]

Cranes use a kleptoparasitic strategy to recover from temporary reductions in feeding rate, particularly when the rate is below the threshold of intake necessary for survival.[23] Accumulated intake of common cranes during daytime at a site of stopover and wintering shows a typical anti-sigmoid shape, with greatest increases of intake after dawn and before dusk.[24]
Interspecies interactions

There are few natural predators of adult cranes, although white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Bonelli's eagles (Aquila fasciata) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are a potential predatory threat to common cranes of all ages.[25][26][27][28] The crane has been known to counterattack eagles both on the land and in mid-flight, using their bill as a weapon and kicking with their feet. Common cranes were additionally recorded as prey for Eurasian eagle-owls (Bubo bubo) in the Ukok Plateau of Russia.[29] Mammals such as wild boar (Sus scrofa), wolverine (Gulo gulo) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are attacked at the nest, as they are potential predators. When facing off against mammals, cranes jab with their bill, hit with their wings and kick with their feet. The cranes nimbly avoid strikes against themselves by jumping into the air. It is probable that they are threatened by a wider range of large mammalian predators as is the black-necked crane but these have not yet been recorded.[30] Herbivorous mammals such as red deer (Cervus elaphus) may also be attacked at the nest, indicating the high aggressiveness of the birds while nesting. The determined attack of a parent crane often assures safety from predators, but occasional losses to predation are inevitable. The carrion crow (Corvus corone) is locally a successful predator of common cranes' eggs, trickily using distraction displays to steal them. Other species of Corvus may also cause some loss of eggs, with common ravens (Corvus corax) also taking some small chicks.[31][32] Common cranes may loosely associate with any other crane in the genus Grus in migration or winter as well as greater white-fronted geese and bean geese.

The global population is 600,000 (2014 estimate) with the vast majority nesting in Russia and Scandinavia. In some areas the breeding population appears to be increasing, such as in Sweden, whereas on the fringes of its range, it is often becoming rare to non-existent. In Ireland, it died out as a breeding species in the 18th century, but a flock of about 30 appeared in County Cork in November 2011, and a smaller flock a year later. It was additionally extirpated as a breeder from Austria around 1900, from Hungary by 1952 and from Spain by 1954. The recovering German breeding population of 8,000 pairs is still also a fraction of the size of the large numbers that once bred in the country. Poland has 15,000 breeding pairs, 50 pairs breed in the Czech Republic and 2009 was the first confirmed breeding in Slovakia.

In Great Britain, the common crane became extirpated in the 17th century, but a tiny population now breeds again in the Norfolk Broads[33] and is slowly increasing and a reintroduction began in 2010 in the Somerset levels. A total of 93 birds were released between 2010 and 2014 as part of the reintroduction effort, and there are now 180 resident birds in the UK. In 2016, a wild crane was born in Wales for the first time in over 400 years.[34]

The main threat to the species, and the primary reason for its decline in the Western Palearctic, comes from habitat loss and degradation, as a result of dam construction, urbanisation, agricultural expansion,[35] and drainage of wetlands. Although it has adapted to human settlement in many areas, nest disturbance, continuing changes in land use, and collision with utility lines are still potential problems. Further threats may include persecution due to crop damage, pesticide poisoning, egg collection, and hunting.[36][37] The common crane is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
"Departure of Cranes" - picture of 1870 by Józef Chełmoński (National Museum in Cracow)
A common crane in the coat of arms in the Tervola municipality

In 1870 Józef Chełmoński painted a picture: "Departure of Cranes" (National Museum in Cracow)

In Ireland, despite being extinct for over 200 years, the common crane plays a very important part in Irish culture and folklore and so thus recent efforts to encourage it back to Ireland are received with much enthusiasm.

On 3 May 2021, a couple was spotted nesting at a side on a rewetted bog in Ireland.[38]

The Kranich Museum in Hessenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, is dedicated to art and folklore related to the common crane.

The common crane is the sacred bird of the god Hephaestus,[39] and it features heavily in the god's iconography. In Indian states of Rajsthan and Gujarat this crane is described in lots of folk songs. Like- anewly married woman (whose husband has gone to far away place for earning) will sing a song to crane to take a message to her husband and request to tell him to come home early.

See also

Cranes in Britain
Lake Der-Chantecoq (migration stopover site)
Hula Valley (migration stopover site)
Lake Hornborga (migration stopover site)


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