Red Crowned Crane
Red Crowned Crane
The red crowned crane, traditionally native to Japan, Eastern Russia and Manchuria is currently endangered, with only a little over 3,000 found in the wild and that number is still decreasing. The red crowned crane is the world's second rarest crane. The males of the species traditionally have a more striking color contrast, most of the body is a stark white while the cheeks, throat and the feathers on the tips of their wings are black with a bare patch of red skin on the crown of the head. The females of the species are similar, except the cheeks, throat and wing feathers are a pearly-grey color. Their life span averages between 30 to 70 years, while flying these birds can reach a top speed of 40 miles per hour. Their weight ranges from 11 to 23 pounds, with males being the heavier set sex. The red crowned crane is one of the largest crane species, averaging around 5 feet tall, with an average wing span of 7 to 8 feet.
Habitat and Diet
Currently, there are two main populations of red crowned cranes, one lives in Northern Japan, on the island of Hakkaido and is non-migrating, the other population breeds in Russia, north-eastern China, and Mongolia, migrating to eastern China, and to North and South Korea, spending the winter there. The red crowned crane is a semi-aquatic omnivore, often venturing farther out to sea than most species of crane would be willing to go. They eat a variety of plants, including but not limited torice, parsley, carrots, redbuds, acorns, and buckwheat. They seem to prefer a more carnivorous diet though, often eating small rodents and birds, as well as fish including carp and goldfish, they also eat snails and small reptiles. They typically hunt for prey by keeping their beaks low to the ground and stabbing it into mud when they find something edible.
Red crowned cranes are communal birds, living in flocks. Due to the small amount of red crowned cranes left in the wild flock sizes tend to be smaller, and these birds often hunt in family groups, pairs or singly, but they do roost in larger groups, getting as many as 80 red crowned cranes roosting together. Red crowned cranes are extremely territorial year round, often needing 6 to 9 feet of space to be out of pecking range. If these conspecifics are ignored, the violator could be violently attacked. These birds are actually monogamous, and practice a courtship dance to strengthen their bond. They are extremely communicative as well, having specific calls to signify what they are trying to communicate.The population of red crowned cranes is in extreme danger due to draining of wetlands for industry and agriculture.
RedCrownedPair.wav Contact Call:A soft, purring call expressing reassurance and location.
RedCrownedPair.wav Unison Call:A duet performed by a pair, to strengthen their bond and protect their territory.
Historical and Cultural Significance
The red crowned crane, specifically in Japan, is considered an icon. It is often written asTancho,meaning the bird of happiness and long life.From airlines tosakebottle labels, from wedding kimonos to elevator doors and chopsticks, so many different things are decorated with them. The hundreds of shrines in Japan can often be seen draped with origami cranes. This bird used to be widespread around Japan, and the meat was meant to only be enjoyed by the emperor, but once feudal restrictions were lifted they were slaughtered. It was almost wiped out everywhere, and it is considered miraculous that the small population that made it to East Hakkaido survived at all.