White-naped crane

White-naped crane
Grus vipio

Photo by Robin Newlin (Birds Korea)

Common name:
white-naped crane (en); grou-de-pescoço-branco (pt); grue à cou blanc (fr); grulla cuelliblanca (es); weißnackenkranich (de)

Order Gruiformes
Family Gruidae

This species breeds in eastern Mongolia, north-eastern China and extreme south-eastern Russia. They migrate south to winter in Korea, southern Japan and along the Yangtze river basin, in the Chinese provinces of Hubei, Anhui and Jiangsu.

This large crane is 125-140 cm long and has a wingspan of 200-210 cm. They weigh 4,7-6,5 kg.

The white-naped crane is found in wetlands along river valleys, grassy marshes, wet sedge meadows, and on islands of steppe lakes with reed bed. They also use wheat fields and other farmland, and occasionally coastal flats.

They feed on insects, small vertebrates such as frogs and toads, the seeds, roots and tubers of sedges and other wetland plants, and also fruits, rice grains and other cereals such as wheat.

White-naped cranes breed in April-September. They are monogamous ans mate for life. The nest is made of dried sedges and grasses, and placed on the ground in an open wetlands, typically amongst dense vegetation. There the female lays 1-3 light brown eggs with reddish speckles, which are incubated by both parents for 30-33 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, and may be fed by the parents for few days, but quickly start foraging by themselves. They chicks are protected by the parents until they fledge, 70-75 days after hatching, and follow the parents during migration with the family remaining together over the winter.

IUCN status -VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a large breeding range, but the global population is estimated at just 3.300-3.900 individuals. Although accurate data on population trends are lacking, numbers are thought likely to be in rapid decline owing to habitat loss in both the breeding and wintering grounds, through wetland drainage, livestock grazing and construction of dams, as well as other negative factors such as hunting, disturbance, nest predation and pollution. Conservation actions underway include legal protection of important breeding and wintering areas and artificial feeding in Japanese wintering areas.

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