Grus grus, what you didn’t know about the common crane

The common crane (Grus grus), is a bird of the family Gruidae, order Gruiformes. It is also known as Common crane or Eurasian crane. The common crane is a large and majestic bird that has a very slow and graceful gait when on the ground.


Bird of gray color and large size (110 cm long and 200 cm wing). Slender appearance with elongated legs and neck. Red-haired head framed by a black front and back border covering the neck and upper half of the neck. White stripes from the cheeks until they meet in the middle of the handicap. Short tail Primary and secondary wing springs are black. The color of the child’s head is brown.

Long-tailed or kruu-kruu squawk, in adults and acute begging in adolescents. Other sounds associated with aggressive or annoying behavior, as well as conversations between partners.

Distributed during winter pastures, preferably in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula during migrations, they are concentrated in wetlands along routes such as Gallocanta Lake or La Sotonera reservoir in Aragon.

Species on the move that can reach the Iberian Peninsula from breeding areas in northern Europe from October onwards, although peak migration activity typically takes place between November and early December.

In February, cranes begin the reverse journey from pastures in the southwest south to breeding areas in northern Europe and park for a few hours or days at the points of the moving passage. During the winter, cranes may stay in the same wet area they use as deer or move to other locations.

Wintering species in the Iberian Peninsula, dehesas of Extremadura, the two of Castile and Andalusia usually have presence of this species. Part of the population does not leave the migratory routes during the winter months, such as the Gallocanta Lagoon and remains there during the winter to feed on the cereal fields and uses the hen house of the lagoon.

During their stay on the Iberian Peninsula crane feed mainly on seeds, bulbs, tubers and rhizomes, but also contains small animals (invertebrates and small vertebrates) to their diet if they can catch them in the vegetable procurement. There is not much quantitative information on the cost of crane in Spain. Plants could account for 90-98% of the dry weight of food. Changes in cropland use and livestock provide new feeds as corn is incorporated into the dietary crane in the winter.

It is covering fields, wetlands and peatlands in northern Europe. The breeding season lasts from April to June that has a set of two eggs (exceptionally 3) that usually survive one or two chicks that will be cared for by both parents until they become independent in the following year.

They do not have important interactions with other species because they are a mainly vegetarian diet species. They do not have specialized predators, although they sometimes suffer attacks by large raptors such as the Golden Eagle or incursions into the pear trees by opportunistic predators such as wild boars or foxes. The gregarious nature of the crane during the winter increases the difficulty of being surprised by a predator, as well as its delusional behavior and habit of using flooded areas to rest during the night.


The common crane is a large, majestic bird that walks slowly in a graceful manner when on the ground. The average size is 100-120 cm in length, with a wingspan of 180-240 cm (distance between the two wing tips when fully extended). Body weight can vary from 3 to 6 kg.

In general, the plumage color of the species is slate gray, augmented with bluish black or black in the primary and secondary flight feathers. The forehead and eyes are black. The head shows a red patch of bare skin on the top of the crown, behind the eyes to the top of the back. (See Article: Agapornis Canus).

The common crane, moreover, when young, has yellowish brown body tips and does not have the shiny neck of the adult. The long legs are black with three large toes, the thumb is insignificant and they carry the majestic whole with a small step.

During the flight in the migration season, the bird showing the way to the head of the V-shaped flock has only the boundless horizon in front of its eyes. From time to time, the bird in the direction leaves the place for another and returns to a more modest interval in the flock. The flocks of the common crane emit a high “trumpet” sound when in flight. The sound is piercing and can be heard for a considerable distance.

The common crane is a medium-sized type of crane. Males are 115 cm long, have a wingspan of 180-200 cm and weigh approximately 5-6 kg. Females are slightly smaller. The plumage is mainly gray with a layer of loose feathers falling on the tail. The head is darker gray, the top of the neck is marked by a white stripe from the eye to the top of the back. The flight feathers are black.


The common crane is a fairly social bird while not breeding. You may see flocks of up to 400 birds flying together during migration. In places where they gather to rest and feed during migration, you can witness thousands of cranes collecting at a time.

The common crane is a bird of Eurasian distribution. The population of Europe is composed of 400,000 individuals belonging to Germany to Finland, some pairs are made in small numbers in France, Holland and Denmark and there is a program to reintroduce species in the British Isles. He died in Spain as a gambler in the Janda lagoon in 1954, of which he made the last pair before drying.

In autumn they leave their home countries to spend the winter elsewhere, mainly in France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Ethiopia. Spain is the country where the largest contingent of birds hibernate, with 260,549 birds counted in the last census January 2017 (J. RománThe common crane is distributed in Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia, alternating territories according to its migration. (See Article: Cornish Duck).


The crane, which is also known as grus grus is a completely moving species. It usually migrates on a narrow front, with two main migration routes (southwest and south-southeast in Europe). Family groups and migratory birds begin migrating in July, but most species move on in early September. Cranes return to their breeding grounds in March and breeding begins in late April or early May.

The behavior of the common crane is gregarious for most of the year, migrating in flocks and flocking in groups, which vary from about 1,000 birds in the non-breeding season.

Every two years, adults undergo a full breeding period, after breeding and before leaving for the winter. During this period, they can not fly, difficult to move around six weeks, the habitat of the crane requires shallow or deep water reeds covered to hide and not be vulnerable. Grus grus is a daily newspaper, feeds during the day and sleeps during the night on the ground or in the water.

Habitat crane in the breeding season is represented by a large number of shallow wetlands, including the tree settle moor or long, usually with standing water, swamp forests and rice fields. During the spawning season to build a nest on a mound of wet vegetation (which can be reused from year to year), often found in water, or near, in inaccessible marshes, thickets and swamps.

Common habitats of the crane in wintering and migration, breeding not including flooded land, marshy fields, rice fields, pastures and similar leafy areas (such as oak woodland in the Iberian Peninsula). The species can also be found on sandbanks along rivers, lakes and reservoirs and make flights of up to 20 km.


Cranes are large (115 cm long) and majestic birds, with terrestrial habits. The inner secondary springs are very elongated and form a black, pendulous black false. The overall color is slate gray, with a curly white list on the sides of the head and neck, contrasting with the neck and face which are black. The fist is shorter than in tribes and herons. Extremely elusive behavior, slow and graceful walk. Larced stretches with the neck in vertical position.

Very rarely perches in trees. Flight is slow but powerful, with neck and legs extended. Migrant flocks assume “V” or straight line formation (tribes fly in irregular flocks). During winter it is available with forests, frequent open fields, ponds, meadows and steppes.

Motives in wetlands and during times of awakening, their behavior makes them very visible and can fully appreciate the lack of sexual dimorphism. There is some kind of Palearctic distribution, bred to the north of its range and seems to migrate or winter in our latitudes. It is currently not threatened.

The nest is a large platform made of dry grass on the ground. The female lays one or two eggs and incubation lasts four weeks, shared by both parents. The cubs are precocial and the adults follow soon, through the marshes in search of food, including mainly insects and mollusks in this phase of life, but also small vertebrates.

Juveniles may be left alone for two months, but remain with the parents until winter. They breed at three to five years of age. Grus grus is a monogamous species. During the breeding season, the common crane, although gregarious, becomes territorial.The pair can be found nesting solitarily in wet and forested areas, or on a small island for better protection against predators. (see article: White Grouse).

It should be noted that these cranes move freely and return to Canada, this fixation is the key to getting the population continues to grow, as we have said Placid, and they mix autumn and interact with their European cousins who spend the winter in the marshes, but when they are they leave because they understand that this is their area of coverage.

The crane or grus grus must restore wetlands in good condition, with patches of vegetation to hide their nests and avoid predators, so a good marshes of the Guadalquivir wetland, or what was Janda in his time are perfect habitats for the next breeding in our country, so it is very important to preserve these wetlands in the best possible conditions and to avoid destruction, agricultural conversion and burning of reeds and junipers that prevents cranes and other species can safely take their hills.

Recovery Janda is very difficult today intensively converted, although they can create small wetlands in areas with low agricultural interest that has been done elsewhere as the Laguna de la Nava in Palencia has managed to recover, with great effort, but with significant cooperation with farmers and administrations in the area, a wet part of what was once an important migration corridor for cranes in Tierra de Campos.

In a spring 2016 in the town of Arguedas Navarra a pair of cranes remained in the breeding season and may have tried to lift (Jesus Mari Lekuona), also confirmed in the county of Jiloca in Aragon a few may do so unnoticed.

Feeding of Grus grus

Common Cranes frequent wetlands, oak woodlands and cultivated and harvested cereal fields, where food is abundant, including plants, various types of seeds, but mainly cereals, roots and stems of submerged plants on the banks of ponds.

The species is onivorous both the breeding season and in the non-breeding little, plant component of their diet consists of roots and aerial part, rhizomes, tubers (eg potatoes), leaves of wild plants and herbs (cabbage, clover, nettle, (wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, rice, peas), olives, acorns, nuts, cedar peanuts and pods Cajanus.

So we understand that it feeds mainly on animal materials in the diet of the tap includes adult insects (beetles, flies) and caterpillars (Lepidoptera), snails, worms, centipedes, spiders, mealybugs, frogs, slow worms, lizards, snakes, small mammals (rodents and shrews) fish and occasionally small baby eggs and hatchlings.

Chinese crane or grus grus

The grus grus or cranes are abundant in Celtic Europe with linked cranes. Because the Heron was for the Celts an animal loaded with symbolism. The crane is an abundant Celtic amulet in Celtic Europe. Similarly, the crane is also an important factor in China and around this totem, the crane is considered as a bird of good omen and is known by various names, including “the bird of happiness”, “celestial crane” or “the bird of peace”.

There is an old Japanese legend promises that anyone who makes a thousand crane leaves will receive a wish from a crane, such as life or recovery from prolonged illness. Perhaps for that reason, every year, people from all over the world make paper cranes and send them to Hiroshima. On August 6, Peace Day, the city’s children hung the cranes on the peace memorial.

Below I attach the video of this Japanese legend.

The crane is almost 70 cm and a wingspan of more than two meters the grus grus crane inspired stories and legends in protecting the weak with its embrace and carrying people to higher spiritual grounds. The crane was believed to have the power to transport with its powerful wings the souls of the recently deceased to paradise.

Grus grus are the birds that fly the highest, about 400 meters, and they do so when it rains. Spain is the most important wintering place for the common grus grus, and it is in Extremadura the main destination for European grus grus.

About 75,000 make the migration, following the western route, hosting birds from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Estonia, among others, as well as the other countries around the Baltic Sea and even the westernmost parts of Russia. The cranes arrive some 3,000 kilometers from northern European countries, where they spend the spring-summer season.

Grus grus are sociable, they can create groups with hundreds of specimens, but they can also be seen in isolated homes where adults follow the children throughout the winter. Cranes fly in a “V” shape (like ducks). Therefore, the flock’s aerodrome increases by 71% relative to a single avian fluke.

If a grus grus falls out of formation, it feels the air resistance and the difficulty of flying alone, so it will return to training as soon as possible, in order to take advantage of being able to lift them in front. When the leader gets tired, he moves to the back of the formation while another takes the lead. The cranes behind squawk (the sound itself produces them) to encourage those in front to maintain speed.

When a group of cranes of others injured, sick or tired … and has to leave the formation, they leave the formation and follow him to help him and protect him, accompanying him until he is able to fly again after his flock and is integrated into the program. An example of precious solidarity that totem cranes teach us.

The grus grus are monogamous and create life expectancy for a couple.A lesson in romance they give us. Every year in early spring, wedding reception, an impressive spectacle in which continuous leaps and dances along with salutes, bows and even kicks and other aggressive measures are accompanied by a loud acoustic call (the characteristic “trumpet” produced earlier), emits most of the female.

It is also curious that the cranes are sleeping with their legs in the water. This is because in the case of enemy approach they would notice the splash and could fly away if necessary. With only one day, they can swim in the water, except for flying.

Cranes generally eat a lot. They especially like acorns, but when there are no acorns they eat plantations: that’s why farmers don’t like them. They also feed on worms, beetles … and frogs, rice fields or fish. The cranes leave to forage when it starts and return when the sun sets.

There are many Celtic stories depicting cranes. Perhaps the most famous is the Aife who became a crane with a jealous rival and Manannán, used his skin to make a bag. Fionn associated with cranes in several stories of oral tradition and the heir to the crane bag. Saint Columba, said to have turned two women into cranes when he evangelized Scotland.

The crane is said to have been the first bird to greet the dawn and thought to have the ability to predict rain and storms. The crane represents the higher states of consciousness and fellowship with the gods, as well as wisdom and intelligence. The crane’s intelligence and discipline is said to have taught man the rules of government. The amulet of the crane represents self-knowledge, which is undoubtedly the most important form of understanding there is.

Conservation of the Grus grus or Crane

The common crane, or grus grus, whose populations appear relatively stable, is threatened by habitat destruction or alteration, particularly in wintering areas.

Deforestation of oak trees, food poisoning in cultivated areas, where the use of pesticides is often important and extensive, exploration and drainage of nests, collisions with power lines, hunting, human disturbances, are some examples of the many threats that threaten this species.

Grus grus is a species considered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), as of Minor Concern, because it is estimated that the population trend is increasing, so it does not approach the thresholds according to the population trend criteria (reduction> 30% in ten years or three generations).

However, the grus grus has seen its population increase in the last 30 years. The places where these birds land under their trails have become an important tourist attraction. Every spring, around 15,000 cranes fly to Hornborgsjö in Sweden, and more than 150,000 people will admire them. In Europe there are the highest concentrations of these spectacular birds in Hortobágy, Hungary, the German Baltic coast, around Berlin and Lac-du-Der in France.

In 2009, approximately 100,000 cranes were counted in Hortobágy. Their return is mainly due to stricter hunting legislation and increased protection for their crops, wetlands. Two initiatives that represent a major victory in the fight for nature conservation.

Grus grus are about the size of a stork. The deepening is gray ash, with long springs on the back of the body. The head and neck are mixed black and white. On the top of the head, the skin is red. As winter approaches, the cranes begin the journey that takes them from the cold areas of northern Europe to the warmer areas of Spain and North Africa.

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