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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Japanese cranes forage using a 'walk and peck' technique (6). They have a broad diet that varies depending on the site, including insects, aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, rodents, fish, reeds, grasses, and other plants (6). Adults usually pair for life and these bonds are reinforced in a mesmerising synchronised courtship dance (9). Arriving in the coastal marshes in the spring to breed (9), nests are made in areas of dead reeds between 30 and 200 centimetres tall (6). A clutch will normally contain two eggs, which hatch after a 29 to 34 day incubation period (6). The chicks then leave the nest after only a couple of days to follow their parents on foraging trips; only one chick is likely to be reared successfully by each pair (9).
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Description

The Japanese crane, also known as the red-crowned crane is sacred and seen as a symbol of fidelity, good luck, love and long life in the Orient (5). It is also the second rarest crane species in the world (6). These tall, graceful birds are mainly white in colour with black lower wings. In males, the cheeks, throat and neck are also black, whilst in females they are a pearly-grey (7). Adults have a bare patch of skin on the crown of the head, which is bright red in colour (7). The bill is an olive-green colour and the legs are black. Juveniles are similar in appearance although they lack the red crown (7) and have black tipped outer flight feathers (2).
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Distribution

Range

There are currently two main populations of Japanese crane; one is resident to the Island of Hokkaido in northern Japan and does not migrate (6). The second population breeds in north-eastern China, Russia and Mongolia and migrates to eastern China, and North and South Korea where it spends the winter (1). Recent estimates of the total population of these birds stand at around 2,200 individuals (8).
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Range Description

Grus japonensis breeds in south-eastern Russia, north-east China, Mongolia (where it was first recorded in 2003 [O. Goroshko in litt. 2003]), and eastern Hokkaido, Japan (BirdLife International 2001). The Russian and Chinese populations mainly winter in the Yellow river delta and the coast of Jiangsu province, China, and the Demilitarised Zone, North Korea/South Korea. Staging areas exist along the Yellow river between the provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi. The Japanese population is non-migratory. The population is estimated at c.2,750 birds; however, this species has a long generation length (12 years), so the population is likely to include only c.1,650 mature individuals (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). Trends are difficult to infer from population estimates, because due to habitat degradation wintering sites are becoming more concentrated and counts are therefore likely to be becoming more accurate, but it is probably declining on mainland Asia (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). The wintering population in China totals c.400-500 birds (Su and Wang 2010). There are another 1,000-1,050 at four locations in North/South Korea (Lee and Yoo 2010). The resident population in Japan has increased to c.1,200 birds (Wang Qi-shan 2008).

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Range

Siberia, Hokkaido and Mongolia; winters e China and Korea.

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Geographic Range

Grus japonensis is the second rarest crane in the world. They can be found at the Amur River basin in eastern Russia and in southeastern Asia, including China and Japan. They are a migratory species; they spend their springs and summers in the wetlands of temperate East Asia. They winter in the salt and freshwater marshes of China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula. There is also a non-migratory population that remains in Hokkaido, Japan, the countries' northernmost island.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )

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Historic Range:
China, Japan, Korea, Russia

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

These cranes have white bodies with black on the tips of their wings and necks. They are named because of the red circle on their heads, which is actually exposed skin. Males and females look alike. Red-crowned cranes have very long and pointy beaks and can weigh up to twenty pounds. Their wingspan can be as wide as eight feet and they can reach 5 feet in height. They are one of the world's largest birds. Their basal metabolic rate is 31.4 cm^3 oxygen/hour.

Average mass: 9500 g.

Average length: 1.6 m.

Average wingspan: 2.4 m.

Average basal metabolic rate: 31.4 cm^3 oxygen/hour.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

Average mass: 8500 g.

  • IUCN. 2003. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed April 21, 2004 at http://www.redlist.org.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
In Russia and China, it breeds in grass, reed, and sedge marshes. In winter and on passage, it occurs in wetlands, including tidal flats, saltmarshes, rivers, wet grassland, saltpans and aquaculture ponds.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Red-crowned cranes nest and feed in marshes with deep water. This habitat preference is rare for cranes; most of their close relatives prefer shallow water. They will also nest only in areas with standing dead vegetation. Red-crowned cranes are sometimes found in agricultural areas.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

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Japanese cranes are highly aquatic birds. They feed in much deeper water than other crane species; feeding on pasture lands in summer and moving to coastal saltmarsh, rice paddies, cultivated fields, rivers and freshwater marshes in winter (6).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Their diet in the wild consist of insects, aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians, rodents, reeds, grasses, heath berries, corn, and other plants. During winter months, they also feed on waste and grain in agricultural fields. In zoos, however, they are fed crane pellets, 500 grams of silverside fish (per day), and occasionally insects.

Red-crowned crane bills are very pointed and sharp; cranes use them like spears. The shape of the bill makes it easier to gather food. This species is able to feed in deeper water than other cranes because of its “walk and peck” technique.

Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; fish; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms; aquatic or marine worms

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Because red-crowned cranes are omnivores, they impact their deep marshes ecosystem by eating both plants and animals.

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Predation

Red-crowned cranes are large birds and can outrun or fly to get away from most predators in their ecosystem. They also have sharp beaks that they can use to defend themselves against predators.

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Known prey organisms

Grus japonensis preys on:
Actinopterygii
aquatic or marine worms
Annelida
Arthropoda
Insecta
Amphibia
Mammalia

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Red-crowned cranes use their courtship dance, which consists of bowing, head bobbing and leaping in order to communicate with each other. The dance is very beautiful and strengthens the bond between male and female pairs. They also have a contact call that lets other birds know where they are. The chick's contact call is much louder and more strident than the adult's, this helps them to get attention in times of distress. They can also communicate aggression by inflating the red cap on their heads.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

These cranes usually live for 30 years in the wild and can live for over sixty years in captivity.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
30 years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
65 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
25 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
50 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
25.2 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 25.2 years (captivity) Observations: The longevity of these animals is controversial. They appear to live at least 25.2 years in captivity (Flower 1938), but possibly much longer. There are anecdotal reports they might live up to 70 years in captivity (http://nationalzoo.si.edu/).
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Reproduction

Red-crowned cranes have a dancing display used in courtship and to communicate between the other members of its species. The dance is a series of bows, head bobbing, leaps, and various other gestures. There is also a “unison call” given by the male and female before they start other dance elements. These cranes are monogamous and stay together throughout the year, they often remain together for many years or until one of them dies.

Mating System: monogamous

Grus japonensis breeds in the spring and summer. The female usually lays two eggs; the eggs hatch at the same time, but often only one chick lives. The chicks fledge in 70 days and the young reach sexual maturity in two to three years.

Breeding season: spring and summer months

Average eggs per season: 2.

Average fledging age: 70 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2-3 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2-3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization

Average time to hatching: 31 days.

Average eggs per season: 2.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
1095 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
1095 days.

Both the male and female G. japonensis help to build the nest and incubate the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the female does more of the feeding while the male defends the chicks from predators.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Grus japonensis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.   Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.  Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

AATCGATGATTATTCTCAACCAACCACAAAGATATCGGAACCCTCTACCTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGCATAATTGGCACTGCTCTT---AGCCTATTAATCCGTGCAGAGCTCGGCCAACCAGGAACCCTATTAGGAGAT---GACCAAATCTATAATGTAATCGTCACCGCCCACGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTCATACCCATCATGATTGGAGGGTTCGGAAATTGACTAGTCCCACTTATA---ATTGGTGCCCCCGACATAGCATTCCCACGCATAAACAATATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCTCCATCCTTCCTACTACTACTTGCCTCCTCCACAGTAGAAGCAGGGGCAGGCACAGGATGAACAGTCTACCCACCACTAGCTGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCTTCAGTAGACCTA---GCCATCTTCTCTCTTCACCTAGCAGGTGTATCCTCCATTCTAGGGGCAATCAATTTCATCACAACAGCCATCAACATAAAACCACCAGCCCTGTCACAATACCAAACACCACTGTTCGTATGATCCGTCCTAATTACCGCCGTCCTATTACTCCTCTCCCTCCCAGTCCTTGCTGCT---GGCATTACCATACTACTAACAGACCGAAACCTCAACACTACATTCTTCGACCCTGCCGGAGGAGGAGACCCCGTCCTATATCAACACCTCTTCTGATTCTTCGGCCACCCAGAAGTTTATATCCTAATTCTCCCAGGTTTTGGAATCATCTCACACGTAGTGACCTACTATGCAGGTAAAAAA---GAACCATTTGGCTACATAGGAATAGTATGAGCCATACTATCTATTGGATTCCTAGGCTTCATCGTATGAGCTCACCATATGTTCACAGTAGGAATAGACGTAGACACCCGAGCATACTTCACATCCGCTACCATAATCATTGCCATCCCAACTGGCATTAAAGTCTTTAGCTGACTG---GCCACACTACACGGAG
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Grus japonensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
C1

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Chan, S., Goroshko, O., Harris, J., Li, Z., Parilov, M., Smirenski, S. & Lee, S.

Justification
This species is classified as Endangered because it has a very small population, and although the population in Japan is stable, the mainland Asian population continues to decline owing to loss and degradation of wetlands through conversion to agriculture and industrial development.


History
  • 2012
    Endangered
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 06/02/1970
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Grus japonensis , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Economic development, especially agricultural expansion, river canalizations, deforestation, and road building, is destroying many of the breeding wetlands in Hokkaido, which support more than a quarter of the red-crowned crane population. The agricultural development of breeding and wintering grounds for the cranes is also a critical threat in China and other places that the cranes reside. Some measures have been taken to help protect Grus japonensis and its habitat. There have been international agreements and cooperative research has been done on the species and its migratory patterns. Protected areas have also been established to safeguard the crane’s' habitat and minimize disturbance. People have developed winter feeding stations, which help the cranes survive the winter months. Japan has marked its nearby utility lines to help reduce collisions and there are frequent surveys done on the breeding and wintering grounds. Red-crowned cranes have lived in captivity for centuries and have been bred by humans since 1861. A few limited reintroduction efforts have been made to help bring the birds in captivity back to the wild and educational programs have been set up to focus on helping these cranes. There are also efforts to develop an umbrella international agreement for all cranes in east Asia and also to build a complete recovery plan for Grus japonensis. It is now illegal to hunt red-crowned cranes in all nations where they naturally occur. They are listed as 'Endangered' by the IUCN and are listed under Appendix I by CITES.

CITES: appendix i

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1). Listed on Appendix I of CITES (3) and Appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (4).
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Population

Population
The global population is estimated to number c.2,750 individuals, which roughly equates to 1,650 mature individuals (J. Harris in litt. 2007, in litt. 2009).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The key threat is the loss and degradation of wetlands in its breeding and wintering grounds, principally for conversion to agriculture, but also industrial and economic development (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). This loss of habitat is leading to the over-concentration of cranes at a few sites (Wang Qi-shan 2008). In China, wetlands are becoming drier as a result of surrounding development (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). In Russia and China, spring fires destroy suitable nesting grounds, and the proliferation of dams lowers water levels, allowing predators access to nests and destroying suitable breeding sites (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). Human disturbance has been so high as to prevent individuals from nesting in some areas (J. Harris in litt. 2009). Rainfall patterns in the breeding grounds appear to follow a 30-year cycle, and the current dry period has meant birds, people and livestock have had to depend on ever smaller areas of wetland, also resulting in increased pressure to divert water from rivers and lakes (Harris 2008). Wetland restoration at Zhalong Nature Reserve (China) was recorded as causing inappropriately-timed floods leading to nest failure (Qiang Wang and Feng Li 2008). Important sites on the Song-nen plain, Shuangtai Hekou and Yellow River delta are on or near major oilfields and pollution is a potential threat (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009). There is high adult mortality in some mainland wintering areas which is apparently due to poisoning; the species has been found to carry high levels of heavy metal contamination, and the incidence of poisoning has been increasing in recent years (Harris 2008, Su Liying et al. 2008, Su et al. 2011). Poaching has also been suggested as a threat (Su Liying et al. 2008). In the demilitarised zone of North/South Korea, the shift to autumn ploughing is reducing access to waste grain (Lee et al. 2007), and there is uncertainty regarding the long-term fate of the crane habitat, whatever the political future delivers. In Japan, the concentration of birds at feeding stations means there is a risk of disease, especially given the low genetic diversity of the population, which passed through a bottleneck in the 1950s (J. Harris in litt. 2007, 2009; Wang Qi-shan 2008). Also the DMZ in Korea is under pressure for development due to the recent relaxation of tensions between South and North Korea (Lee et al. 2007b).

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These beautiful birds were almost hunted to extinction in Japan at the beginning of the 20th Century for their stunning plumage (9). Habitat losses due to agriculture and development have been further causes of the decline (1). Wetlands are fragile ecosystems and both the wintering and breeding grounds are under increasing risk of degradation and loss due to conversion to agriculture and industrial development (8).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. CMS Appendix I and II. Part of the European Endangered [Species] Programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. It is legally protected in all range states. Key protected areas include Khingansky, Muraviovka and Lake Khanka (Russia), Zhalong, Xianghai, Hui River, Shuangtai Hekou, Yellow River delta and Yancheng (China), Kumya and Mundok (North Korea), Kushiro, Akkeshi-Bekanbeushi and Kiritappu (Japan). Surveys of the wintering population in China have been carried out since 2006 (Su Liying et al. 2008). The International Red-crowned Crane Workshop was held in Japan in November 2008, where it was concluded that international cooperation was necessary to stop development from threatening crane habitat across the species's range (Wang Hui 2008). Artificial feeding has been set up at some sites (Wang Qi-shan 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify breeding times during which particularly stringent protection rules should be implemented, as has been done at Liaoning Shuangtai Estuary (Zou Hong-fei et al. 2008). Improve general monitoring procedure, with complete censuses, satellite tracking and aerial counts. Determine Area of Occupancy to a more accurate level. Initiate a study of heavy metal contamination on the mainland (J. Harris in litt. 2009). Expand the area/number of wintering sites in Japan. Establish a transboundary protected area at Tumen estuary, between Russia/China/North Korea. Secure the conservation status of the Cholwon and Han estuary in the Demilitarised Zone. Strengthen management of protected areas on the Sanjiang plain (China), reducing human disturbance. Halt tidal-flat reclamation along the Yancheng coast (China), and control the highly invasive cordgrass Spartina alterniflora. Improve management of wetland restoration at Zhalong, to prevent floods from causing breeding failure (Qiang Wang and Feng Li 2008). Prevent poisoning from pesticides and poaching. Control fires in the breeding grounds. Establish interest groups and a communications organisation for crane conservation in China (Wang Qi-shan 2008) and extend captive breeding programmes for future reintroduction and population supplementation.

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Conservation

A number of international agreements have been made to protect crane species and their habitats, and it is illegal to hunt Japanese cranes in all countries in which they occur (6). Protected areas have been established to safeguard the species; furthermore, conservation and educational programmes have been developed with the involvement of local communities, and a number of reintroduction attempts have been made (6). Research into the ecology, habitat needs and breeding biology of this graceful crane has been carried out since 1970 (6).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

These animals are in constant conflict with humans in Asia because the Asian countries where the cranes live are so heavily populated. There is a constant demand for more industrialization and agricultural expansion, which reduces the habitat where a large number of these cranes reside.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Red-crowned cranes are significant to people in Asia because they are strongly associated with luck and love. They may also help control pest populations because they feed on many small insects and rodents. They are also important subjects for research and education.

Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Red-crowned crane

For other uses, see Crowned crane.

The red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis), also called the Japanese crane (Chinese: 丹顶鹤 or 丹頂鶴; Hanyu Pinyin: Dāndǐng Hè; Japanese: 丹頂鶴 or タンチョウヅル, tanchōzuru; Korean: 두루미, Durumi; the Chinese character '丹' means 'red', '頂/顶' means 'crown' and '鶴/鹤' means 'crane'), is a large east Asian crane and among the rarest cranes in the world. In some parts of its range, it is known as a symbol of luck, longevity and fidelity.

Description[edit]

At Marwell Wildlife, England

Adult red-crowned cranes are named for a patch of red bare skin on the crown, which becomes brighter in the mating season. Overall, they are snow white in color with black on the wing secondaries, which can appear almost like a black tail when the birds are standing, but the real tail feathers are actually white. Males are black on the cheeks, throat and neck, while females are pearly gray in these spots. The bill is olive green to greenish horn, the legs are slaty to grayish black, and the iris is dark brown.

This species is among the largest cranes, typically measuring about 150 to 158 cm (4 ft 11 in to 5 ft 2 in) tall and 120–150 cm (3 ft 11 in–4 ft 11 in) in length (from bill to tail tip). Across the large wingspan, the red-crowned crane measures 220–250 cm (7 ft 3 in–8 ft 2 in).[2][3][4][5] Typical body weight can range from 7 to 10.5 kg (15 to 23 lb), with males being slightly larger and heavier than females and weight ranging higher just prior to migration.[6][7][8] On average, it is the heaviest crane species, although both the Sarus and Wattled Crane can grow taller and exceed this species in linear measurements.[7][9][10] The maximum known weight of the red-crowned crane is 15 kg (33 lb).[11][12] Among standard measurements, the wing chord measures 56–67 cm (22–26 in), the exposed culmen measures 13.5–16.7 cm (5.3–6.6 in) and the tarsus measures 25.5–30.1 cm (10.0–11.9 in).

Range and habitat[edit]

In the spring and summer, the migratory populations of the red-crowned crane breed in Siberia (eastern Russia), northeastern China and occasionally in northeastern Mongolia[1] (i.e., Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area). The breeding range centers in Lake Khanka, on the border of China and Russia. Normally the crane lays 2 eggs, with only one surviving. Later, in the fall, they migrate in flocks to Korea and east-central China to spend the winter.[1] Vagrants have also been recorded in Taiwan.[1] In addition to the migratory populations, a resident population is found in eastern Hokkaidō in Japan.[1] This species nests in wetlands and rivers. In the wintering range, their habitat is comprised mainly by paddy fields, grassy tidal flats, and mudflats. In the flats, the birds feed on aquatic invertebrates and, in cold, snowy conditions, the birds switch to mainly living on rice gleanings from the paddy fields.


Diet[edit]

Head and upper neck

Red-crowned cranes have a highly omnivorous diet, though the dietary preferences have not been fully studied. They eat rice, parsley, water plants, carrots, reed buds, acorns, buckwheat and a variety of water plants. The animal matter in their diet consists of fish, including carp and goldfish, amphibians, especially salamanders, snails, crabs, dragonflies, small reptiles and other birds, especially waterfowl. They seem to prefer animal food matter throughout the year, although rice is now essential to survival for wintering birds in Japan and grass seeds are an important food source.[citation needed] While all cranes are ominivorous, per Johnsgard, the two most common crane species today (the Sandhill and Common Cranes) are amongst the most herbivorous species while the two rarest species (the red-crowned and Whooping Cranes) are perhaps the most carnivorous species.

They typically forage by keeping the head close to the ground, jabbing the bill into mud when something edible is encountered. When capturing fish or other slippery prey, they may quickly jab in a similar fashion to a heron. Although animal prey can be swallowed whole, usually red-crowned cranes more often tears up prey by grasping with its bill and shaking it vigorously, eating pieces as they fall apart. Most foraging occurs in wet grasslands, cultivated fields, in shallow rivers or on lakeshores.

Migration[edit]

The population of red-crowned cranes in Japan is essentially non-migratory, with the race in Hokkaido moving only 150 km (93 mi) to its wintering grounds. Only the mainland population experiences a long-distance migration. They leave their wintering grounds in spring by February and are established on territories by April. In fall, they leave their breeding territories in October and November, with the migration fully over by mid-December.

Sociality[edit]

Flock sizes are affected by the small numbers of the red-crowned crane and, given their largely carnivorous diet; some feeding dispersal is needed in natural conditions. Wintering cranes have been observed foraging, variously, in family groups, pairs and singly, although all roosting is in larger groups (up to 80 individuals) with unrelated cranes. By the early spring, pairs begin to spend more time together, with non-breeding birds and juveniles dispersing separately.

Interspecies interactions[edit]

Red-crowned cranes flying.

Due to their securing size, red-crowned cranes often react indifferently to the presence of other birds such as small raptors, with harriers, falcons, owls and small buzzards hunting near a crane nest without any parties harassing each other. Birds more likely to be egg or nest predators, such as corvids, some buzzards, and various eagles, are treated aggressively and will be threatened until they leave the crane's territory. Mammalian carnivores, including gray wolves, red foxes, badgers, raccoon dogs, Eurasian lynxes and domestic dogs are attacked immediately, with the parent cranes attempting to jab them in the flanks until the predator leaves the vicinity. Occasionally, losses at the nest occur to any of the above predators. Immature and unwary adult cranes may be killed by the largest raptors, such as sea eagles, or mammalian carnivores, though this is rare, especially with adults. White-naped cranes often nest near red-crowned cranes but competition is lessened by the greater portion of vegetation in the white-naped's diet.

Breeding[edit]

It is believed that breeding maturity is reached at three or four years of age. All mating and egg-laying is largely restricted to April and early May. A red-crowned crane pair will duet in various situations, helping to establish formation and maintenance of the pair bond, as well as territorial advertisement and agonistic signaling. The pair move rhythmically until they are standing close, throw their heads back and let out a fluting call in unison, often triggering other pairs to start duetting as well. As it is occurs year around, the social implications of dancing are complex in meaning. However, dancing behavior is generally thought to show excitement in the species.

Nesting territories range from 1 to 7 km (0.62 to 4.35 mi) and are often the same year after year. Most nesting territories are characterized by flat terrain, access to wetland habitat and tall grasses. Nest sites are selected by females but built by both sexes and are frequently in a small clearing made by the cranes. A majority of nests contain two eggs, though 1 to 3 have been recorded. Both sexes incubate the eggs for at least 30 days. They also both feed the young when they hatch. Staying in the nest for the first few weeks, the young start to follow their parents as they forage in marshes by around 3 months of age. By early fall, the young are fledged and are assured fliers by migration time. Although they can fly well, crane young remain together with their parents for around 9 months.[5] The average adult lifespan is around 30 to 40 years, with some specimens living to 70 years of age in captivity. It is one of the longest living species of bird.[5]

Status[edit]

The estimated total population of the species is only 2,750 in the wild, including about 1,000 birds in the resident Japanese population.[1] Of the migratory populations, about 1,000 winter in China (mainly at the Yellow River delta and Yancheng Coastal Wetlands), and the remaining winter in Korea.[1] It is endangered and received this status on June 2, 1970.

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ran a program where U.S. zoos donated eggs which were flown to Russia and raised in the Khinganski Nature Reserve and released into the wild. This program sent 150 eggs between 1995-2005. The program has been put on hold in order to concentrate on different crane conservation programs in Russia, such as education and fire suppression (red-crowned crane ssp.). Several hundred red-crowned cranes are kept in zoos around the world.[13] Assuredly, the international efforts of Russia, China, Japan and Korea are needed to keep the species from extinction. The most pressing threat is habitat destruction, with a general lack of remaining pristine wetland habitats for the species to nest in. In Japan, there is little proper nesting habitat and the local breeding population is close to the saturation point.

Culture[edit]

China[edit]

(video) A red-crowned crane feeding.
Further information: Crane in Chinese mythology

In China, the red-crowned crane is often featured in myths and legends. In Taoism, the red-crowned crane is a symbol of longevity and immortality. In art and literature, immortals are often depicted riding on cranes. A mortal who attains immortality is similarly carried off by a crane. Reflecting this association, red-crowned cranes are called xian he (traditional Chinese: 仙鶴; simplified Chinese: 仙鹤; pinyin: xiānhè; literally: "fairy crane" or "crane of the immortals"). The red-crowned crane is also a symbol of nobility. Depictions of the crane have been found in Shang Dynasty tombs and Zhou Dynasty ceremonial bronzeware. A common theme in later Chinese art is the reclusive scholar who cultivates bamboo and keeps cranes.

Because of its importance in Chinese culture, the red-crowned crane was selected by the National Forestry Bureau of the People's Republic of China as a candidate for the title of national animal of China. This decision was deferred due to the red-crowned crane's Latin name translation as "Japanese crane".[14]

Japan[edit]

The official logo of Japan Airlines features a red-crowned crane.

In Japan, this crane is known as the tanchōzuru and is said to live for 1,000 years. A pair of red-crowned cranes were used in the design for the Series D 1000 yen note (reverse side). In the Ainu language, the red-crowned crane is known as sarurun kamuy or marsh kamuy. At Tsurui they are one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. Cranes are said to grant favours in return for acts of sacrifice, as in Tsuru no Ongaeshi ("crane's return of a favor").

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g BirdLife International (2013). "Grus japonensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J.(1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 3: Hoatzins to Auks Lynx Edicions, Barcelona
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ a b c [3]
  6. ^ [BirdLife International (2000), Threatened Birds of the World, Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge] Red-crowned crane - ICF
  7. ^ a b CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  8. ^ Burnie D and Wilson DE (Eds.), Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. DK Adult (2005), ISBN 0789477645
  9. ^ Wattled Crane profile (2011).
  10. ^ Sarus Crane profile (2011).
  11. ^ Welcome to Cyber Crane
  12. ^ The Wildlife Year, The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (1991). ISBN 0-276-42012-8.
  13. ^ ISIS (2011). Grus japonensis. Version 28 March 2011
  14. ^ Controversy over the red-crowned crane's candidacy for national bird status (丹顶鹤作为候选国鸟上报国务院 因争议未获批)

Bibliography[edit]

  • Craft, Lucille. 1999. "Divided by Politics, United in Flight - Can Japan and Russia Resolve Their Differences Over the Remote Kuril Islands and Protect the Rare Red Crowned Crane?" International Wildlife. 29, no. 3: 22.
  • Crane- Paul A. Johnsgaard (2011).
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