Order: Gruiformes - cranes, limpkins, rails, coots, gallinules, bustards
Family: Gruidae - cranes
Scientific name: Grus monacha
Description: The Hooded crane stands three feet tall and has a 5-6’ wingspan. Its front crown is red, covered with black “hairs”; the hind crown, cheeks, and neck for ¾ of its length are white, the rest of plumage is dark gray. The inner remiges (primary or secondary quill feathers) are elongated, drooping beyond the tail. The legs are black.
Range: Siberia, China, Korea, Japan
Habitat: Swamps, bogs, riverbanks, lakeshores
Reproductive Habits: Hooded cranes nest in isolated, widely scattered bogs in the taiga and in other forested wetlands, preferring mossy areas with widely scattered larch trees, and avoiding areas that are either too open or too densely forested. The nests are constructed of damp moss, peat, sedge stalks and leaves, and branches of larch and birch. Eggs are laid in late April and early May. Usually two eggs are laid. Incubation takes from 27-30 days. The chicks fledge at about 75 days. Often only one chick survives. If eggs are destroyed early in the incubation period, cranes will lay again. This behavior has been used in crane breeding programs, where biologists take one or both eggs, causing the pair to produce more eggs, or to give the second chick a better chance at survival.
Diet in Wild: Aquatic plants, berries, insects, frogs, salamanders, roots, rhizomes, seeds, blades of grass, small aquatic animals, rice, wheat.
Diet in Zoo: Mazuri crane food, Bird of Prey meat, alfalfa hay, mealworms.
General Info: The hooded crane has been considered a National Monument in South Korea since 1971.
Hooded cranes feed by digging and foraging in both their breeding and wintering grounds. Non-breeding cranes are found in shallow open wetlands, natural grasslands, and agricultural fields in southern Siberia, northeastern Mongolia, and northern China. Wintering hooded cranes utilize a wide variety of habitats. In China, they tend to roost along the shores of rivers and shallow lakes, and to forage in the muddy edges of lakes and in nearby grasslands, grassy marshes, rice paddies, and agricultural fields. In Korea and Japan, they feed almost exclusively at feeding stations and in agricultural fields. The breeding grounds of the species are in southeastern Russia and northern China, while non-breeding flocks occur in the Russia-Mongolia-China border region.
There are 15 species of crane world-wide, and they are found on five continents (not including South America).
Conservation Status: This species is listed as Endangered with USFWS, and is on CITES Appendix I. Although the hooded crane is threatened with extinction, it is more secure than the other threatened cranes of East Asia. This is due mainly to the relative absence of intensive human economic activity in their breeding grounds. The total population of hooded cranes is estimated at 9,400-9,600. The critical threats to this species include drainage of wetlands and intensified logging in Russia’s taiga forests; reclamation of wintering grounds in China and changes in hydrology there; construction of dams; human development; and high risk of disease outbreak in concentrated winter flocks where they depend on feeding stations (Japan). This species has experienced dramatic rises and declines in population since the 1920’s. Since artificial feeding began in 1952, the population has steadily increased, but ¾ of the worlds population are sustained in this manner, and it leaves the species very vulnerable.
Predators: Eggs in the nest are subject to predation by mammalian predators.
Cranes: Their Biology, Husbandry, and Conservation. 1996. Ed. David H. Ellis, George F. Gee, Claire M. Mirande. Hancock House Publishers, Blaine, WA. pp. 282-284.
Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 3. 1996. Ed. J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. pp. 78, 88.