For centuries, the red-crowned crane has been revered as a symbol of good
luck and longevity in countries in East Asia. However, there are only about
4000 wild red-crowned cranes in the world.
The species is included in the IUCN Red List by the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and also the Red Data Book by the Ministry of
the Environment (Japan).
There are two populations: a non-migratory island population in NE Japan
(Hokkaido) and a migratory continental population that breeds in SE Russia
and NE China and winters in E China and the Korean Peninsula.
Typical nesting habitat is open wetlands; however, some nests can be found
in wooded wetlands. Most nests are mounds of dead reeds in the water and
are surrounded by dense vegetation.
Eggs & chicks
An adult female lays one to two eggs each spring. The egg hatches in about
32 days. The downy chick begins to follow the parents in four to five days.
Parents and the chick gradually increase their home range. It takes more
than three months before the young crane is able to fly with the parents.
The young crane spends its first winter with its parents. The cranes use
a range of habitats in winter. They prefer shallow rivers and streams with
open water for roosting. In early spring, the parents chase away their
young prior to nest building.
The cranes are omnivorous. They feed on vertebrates such as mice, small
fish, and frogs, invertebrates such as crayfish, snails, crabs, earthworms
and insects as well as grain and other plant matter.
What is in the name?
Red-crowned cranes are known for their beautiful courtship dances and unison
calls. The best time to observe the dance is in February and March.
The red-crowned crane is also known as the Japanese crane or Manchurian
crane. Its scientific name is Grus japonensis. A native people of Hokkaido, the Ainu people, called it the Sar-or-un-kamuy
(the god of wetland). In contemporary Japanese, it is called Tancho (丹頂:
red crown), and Tancho is also recognized outside of Japan. In Chinese,
it is called Dāndǐng Hè (丹頂鶴/丹顶鹤: red-crowned crane). In Korean, it is called Durumi (두루미: the crane). In Russian, it is called Yaponski Zhuravl (Японский журавль: Japanese crane).