Cranes

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Cranes

 

(Gruidae), a family of birds of the order Gruiformes. They are large birds with a long neck and long legs. Their standing height varies from 90 cm (hooded crane) to 155 cm (sarus crane). The lower part of the tibia has no feathers. The fore toes are joined at the base by a small membrane. The tail is short. The males and females have similar plumage.

Most cranes have a loud, trumpeting cry. They inhabit primarily open places, such as the steppe, broad marshes, or tundra. The northern species migrate. They settle in separate pairs, but during migration and wintering periods join into flocks. The nest is built on the ground, and each clutch contains two eggs or, more rarely, one or three. The young abandon the nest soon after hatching; both parents care for them. Their food consists of vegetable matter (seeds, berries, shoots, and plant rhizomes) and animal matter (insects, mollusks, and small rodents). Migrating flocks often damage crops. The numbers of many species of Gruidae have sharply declined because of the drying up of swamps and the cultivation of virgin lands; some species are on the verge of complete extinction.

The family contains 15 species in five genera. Three genera—the Stanley crane (Tetrapteryx; one species), the crowned crane (Balearica\ one species), and the wattled crane (Bugeranus) —are found only in Africa. The demoiselle crane (Anthropoides) is found in the steppes of Africa, Europe, and Asia (including the USSR). The genus Grus is represented by ten species; they are distributed in Europe, Asia, North America, Australia, and New Guinea. There are five species in the USSR: the common crane (G. grus), widely distributed in the central and northern belts of the USSR; the sandhill crane (G. canadensis), in northeastern Siberia; the white crane, or Siberian crane (G. leucogeranus), in the tundra of northeastern Yakutiia; the hooded crane (G. monachus), in eastern Siberia; and the white-naped crane (G. vipio), in the Amur basin. The Manchurian crane (G. japonensis), which nested in the Ussuri basin, is practically extinct today.

REFERENCE

Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and ‘ N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1951.

E. V. KOZLOVA

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