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< > Grus monacha - Hooded crane (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)

Hooded crane. Click here for full-page view with caption Grus monacha - Hooded crane. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus monacha - Hooded crane. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus monacha - Hooded crane. Click here for full-page view with caption. Hooded crane, drop-wing preen threat. Click here for full-page view with caption. Hooded craane rasied tertials. Click here for full-page view with caption. Hooded crane wing flap. Click here for full-page view with caption. Hooded crane foraging. Click here for full-page view with caption. Hooded crane in flight. Click here for full-page view with caption. Hooded crane distribution map. Click here for full-page view with caption.










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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Grus monachus (B474)
  • Grus vipio (B474)
  • Antigone monachus (B474)
  • la Grue moine (French) (B474)
  • de monniks kraanvogel (Dutch) (B474)
  • der monchs Kranich (German) (B474)
  • Nabezuru (Japanese) (B474)
  • Grus moine (French) (B107.w8)
  • Mönchskranich (German) (B107.w8)
  • Gruella Monje (Spanish) (B107.w8)
  • Gruella monjita (W2.Dec06.w6)
  • Megalornis monachus (B479.w16)

Names for newly-hatched


Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)

Major References

B107.w8, B475, B479.w16, B480.3.w3, B481.II.12.w20, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11

Aviculture references:
B31, B115.2.w7, B197.9.w9, B479.w16, D437, J23.17.w5, P1.1986.w4, P96.1.w1


(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • --

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Aviculture Information


General Information:
  • Cranes are tall birds with a long beak and sharp claws, and can be aggressive. Their ability to injure humans must be considered in enclosure design and handling. (B115.2.w7, B197.9.w9)
  • Most cranes are wetland species, a few being primarily grassland species. They should be given the opportunity to wade and bathe, and to forage and/or dig for food in natural vegetation and soft soil substrates.
  • Good nutrition, with adequate protein and micronutrient levels, is essential for the general health of the cranes and for breeding.
  • Cranes form monogamous pairs and can be extremely territorial, particularly in the breeding season. Therefore it is important to house each pair of adult cranes in a separate enclosure from other cranes, and preferably not directly adjacent to another pair of cranes, particularly of the same species. Visual barriers should be put in place between crane enclosures before the breeding season
  • Care is required when introducing intended mates to each other, to avoid injury to one or both birds; formation of a good pair bond can take time.
  • Cranes are unlikely to breed if they feel insecure, such as in mixed species enclosures with hoofstock, or if there is no part of their enclosure which is free from daily human disturbance.
  • If possible, rotational pens should be provided, such that a pen can be left empty in alternate years, to reduce soil burdens of parasites and pathogenic microorganisms which may otherwise build up to problematic levels; this is particularly important if chicks are to be parent-reared, to avoid overwhelming exposure to e.g. gapeworm very early.

(B115.2.w7, B197.9.w9, D437, J23.17.w5, P1.1986.w4, P96.1.w1)

Species-specific information:

  • Very hardy. (B479.w16)
    • Hooded cranes should be allowed out on clear cold days, even with snow on the ground. (B31)
    • A shelter should be available in winter, particularly cold, wet weather. (B31)
  • Non-breeding hooded cranes can be kept in a large area with other wading birds. For breeding, a spacious enclosure is recommended, with an area of short grass, water and also bushes. (B31)
Management Techniques


Bird Husbandry and Management

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Height About 100 cm. (B107.w8, B475) Wingspan: 160-180 cm. (B107.w8)
Adult weight General --
Male 3,280-4,870 g. (B107.w8)
Female 3,400-3,740 g. (B107.w8)
Newly-hatched weight Two chicks weighed 93.5 and 85 g. (B481.II.12.w20)
Growth rate Cranes general: Crane chicks grow rapidly. Growth of the legs is particularly rapid in the first six weeks, with the wings then developing rapidly after this. (B107.w8)

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Bill Male Yellowish horn=colour. (B480.3.w3)
Variations (If present) Female: --
Eyes (Iris) Male
  • Orange to red. (B107.w8)
  • Hazel-yellow to orange brown; usually yellowish. (B480.3.w3)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Bill In downy chicks light flesh, shading to yellow at the base and getting darker at the tip. (B481.II.12.w20)
Eyes (Iris) Brown. (B480.3.w3) In downy chicks, dark cinnamon. (B481.II.12.w20)

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Adult Male Grey (B107.w8); nearly black, with soles of feet olive-green. (B480.3.w3)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile At hatching, yellow, but brownish within 24 hours. (B481.II.12.w20)

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Adult Male
Head white, with hood on the forecrown above the eyes, of bare red skin. Neck white, body grey. (B107.w8)
Variations (If present)
Juvenile Similar to adult, but plumage tinted brown, and crown black and white. (B107.w8)

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Identification Notes

Cranes general: 
  • "Cranes are large to very large birds with long necks and legs, streamlined bodies and long, rounded wings." (B107.w8)
  • Compared to the day-herons, cranes have longer legs and hold their necks straighter. (B107.w8)
  • Compared to egrets, the body is proportionately larger. (B107.w8)
  • Compared to storks, the legs are longer, bodies lighter and bills smaller. (B107.w8)
  • In flight, cranes have their necks straight forwards and their long legs trailing behind, forming a straight line from the bill; in very cold weather the legs may be pulled in against the body. (B107.w8)

Hooded crane:

  • Small, dark crane, with a darkish-grey body and a white head and upper neck, except for a bare red skin patch above the eyes. (B475)
  • The inner secondaries are elongated and form a distinct "bustle" when the wings are folded. (B107.w8)
  • Distinguished from Grus vipio - White-naped crane by smaller size and fully white neck. (B107.w8) rather than grey sides of the neck; (B475) the white-naped crane also has an extensive area of red on the face around the eye. (B475)


  • High-pitched, loud calls. (B107.w8, B475)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

  • Precocial. (B107.w8)
    • One chick was moving as far as 20m from the nest by three days after hatching, being brooded by the father while the mother was still on the nest with the second chick; by five days they were 250 m from the nest and on the seventh day moved to an area about 2 km away, remaining there to feed thereafter. (B481.II.12.w20)
  • Dorsal dark brown, ventral paler brown. (B107.w8)
    • "Rusty ochre", darker on the back and shoulders and paler on the rump and abdomen. (B481.II.12.w20)
  • Cranes general: The initial down is replaced by a second coat of down; this is replaced by feathers. (B107.w8)

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Detailed Anatomy

  • The trachea is coiled and fills the sternum. (B107.w8)
  • Cranes have ten functional primary flight feathers (with a vestigial 11th in most species), and 18-25 secondary flight feathers. (B107.w8)

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Spring, with eggs laid late April to early May. (B107.w8)
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In areas of sphagnum bog with scattered larch trees. The nest is made from damp moss, sedge stalkes and leaves and larch and birch branches. (B107.w8)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average Usually two. (B107.w8, B481.II.12.w20)
Range --
Egg Description Pale buff with markings of pale yellowish-brown and leaden-grey. About 3 x 2 inches in size. (B479.w16) Average 91.25 x 58.97 mm (B480.3.w3); fresh eggs weighed average 149.5 g. (B481.II.12.w20)

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  • 27-30 days. (B107.w8)
  • Incubation begins after the first egg has been laid. (B107.w8)

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Asynchronous. (B107.w8, B481.II.12.w20) second chick hatching about a day after the first. (B481.II.12.w20)

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About 75 days. (B107.w8, B481.II.12.w20)

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Sexual Maturity

Males Three to four years. (B107.w8)
Females Three to four years. (B107.w8)

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Feeding Behaviour

  • Dig, and pick food of the surface. (B107.w8)
  • Graze in a manner similar to geese. (B107.w8)
  • Take invertebrates from soil, and from old logs. (B480.3.w3)
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

  • Cranes general: Both male and female build the nest. (B107.w8)
  • Cranes general: A secluded spot in the pair's territory is chosen, and the cranes unison-call there, then walk away from the selected place and toss nesting materials over their shoulders towards it. Returning to the nest site, they pull into the nest material which is within reach, then slowly walk away and toss more material towards the nest, repeating this sequence until sufficient nesting material has been gathered. (B107.w8)
  • Cranes general: 
    • Both male and female incubate, changing over several times during the day, but with the female usually incubating during the night. (B107.w8)
    • About every 30-80 minutes, the bird which is incubating will rise and roll the eggs or adjust the nest. (B107.w8)
  • Cranes general: Adult cranes feed their chicks from soon after hatching. Both male and female bring small items to the chicks, presenting them by holding the food item at the tip of the bill or dropping the food in front of the chicks. (B107.w8)
  • Cranes general: Adult cranes continue to care for their chicks throughout the pre-fledging period and may bring food to the chick for several months (although chicks also follow their parents to food sources from an early age). Juveniles remain with their parents through the non-breeding periods but leave at the start of the next breeding season or are driven away after the return to the breeding territory. (B107.w8)

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Social Behaviour

  • Cranes general: 
    • Cranes are gregarious outside the breeding season, but separate for the breeding season. (B107.w8)
    • Juveniles which are not yet paired gather in non-breeding flocks and may be nomadic through the breeding period. (B107.w8)
    • By the end of their second year the young birds may have started to initiate pair bonds. (B107.w8)
    • Soon after the chicks fledge, families of migratory cranes gather in flocks at pre-migratory staging areas with dependable food and safe roosting sites. As the weather deteriorates, they move further south to join larger congregations of cranes, before setting out on the main migration. (B107.w8)
  • Often found associated with Grus grus - Common crane during migration. (B481.II.12.w20)
  • A hybrid pair has been seen (male common crane, female hooded crane), producing hybrid chicks. (B481.II.12.w20)

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Sexual Behaviour

  • During th unison call the head and neck are extended variable up and back, while the tertial feathers are conspicuously raised in a plume, by both male and female. (B481.II.12.w20)
  • Cranes general: Monogamous. Crane pairs stay together all year, and usually remain together until one partner dies. (B107.w8)
  • Cranes general: (B107.w8)
    • Cranes copulate repeatedly, starting several weeks before egg laying.
    • Mating usually occurs before sunrise, but can also occur at other times during daylight hours. 
    • In newly-established pairs, copulation is preceded by long bouts of dancing. Well-established pairs mate without any tension. 
    • The copulatory sequence is initiated by the male or the female. The initiating bird elevates its bill, arches slightly forwards and gives a low, purring call. The mate then shows similar behaviour. 
    • The male bird (usually) circles its mate with exaggerated steps.
    • The female spreads her wings. The male approaches, jumps onto her back with his wings flapping, and crouches.
    • The female elevates her tail, the male lowers his tail, and the cloacae of the two birds meet.
    • The male jumps forward off the female over her head and for a few seconds performs threat displays.
    • Both birds perform a long preening sequence.


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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

  • Roost at night in compact groups, separate from Grus vipio - White-naped crane using the same/adjacent flooded rice fields. (B480.3.w3)
  • Soon after daybreak, fly 2 - 10 km to feeding areas; they remain spread out in families or small groups while feeding, making use of leftover wheat and rice. (B480.3.w3)
  • Most of the birds return to the roost between sunset and dark, usually flying a few hundred feet above ground level; sometimes if they have been fairly high up, they make several descending circles. (B480.3.w3)
  • In winter, roost at night in rice paddies in about 5 cm water (1.0 - 7.5 cm) with 4.5 - 10.5 cm mud depth, (B481.II.12.w20), foraging during the day are returning to near the roost at dusk, then into the roost when it is nearly dark. May drink, give unison calls and walk around before settling for the night with moderate distances between cranes. (B481.II.12.w20)

Cranes general:

  • Roosting:
    • Cranes (except the Balearica spp.) generally roost in shallow water, occasionally on mudflats, sandbars or dry ground.
    • In flocks, cranes stand about a "peck distance" apart while roosting.
    • Most of the time they stand on one leg, switching legs several times during the night.
    • The head and neck are tucked onto or under one shoulder.
    • Cranes defecate at regular intervals while roosting.
    • On the roosting site they are still and silent unless disturbed.
    • If there is an unfamiliar sound, or one member of the flock gives an alarm call, all the birds become alert and are ready to fly.


  • At dawn, they wake, stretch, preen and drink.
  • In small groups, they fly to a post-roosting staging area, and preen more; cranes may gather at such a site from several roost sites.
  • Small and then larger groups move from the staging area to a feeding area for the day.
  • Generally, cranes feed for a long time in the early morning, then move to loafing areas.
    • At loafing areas, cranes preen and drink, and also engage in social displays, establishing a pecking order for families, and facilitating pairing of unattached birds.
  • In the middle of very hot days, they may fly, spirally high up on thermals.
  • Later they return to feeding and watering areas and forage.
  • They then move to pre-roosting staging areas before flying to a roost site.
    • On the pre-roost staging areas they may engage in social displays.


  • Cranes general: Diurnal. Outside the breeding season, cranes roost at night and feed during the day. (B107.w8)

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Natural Diet

Adult Diet

  • Breeding areas: aquatic plants, berries, insects, frogs, salamanders. (B107.w8)
    • Berries, aquatic plants, insects, frogs and salamanders. (B481.II.12.w20)
  • Winter:
    • Rhizomes, seeds, grains, rice; in Korea and Japan, artificial foods, rice and other waste grains. (B107.w8)
    • Insects, snails, grubs. (B480.3.w3)
    • Mainly plant materials, particularly rice, also wheat and barley and lesser amounts of other seeds and grass. (B481.II.12.w20)

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Newly-hatched Diet


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Detailed Physiology Notes

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Hooded crane distribution map. Click here for full-page view with caption.

  • China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, Russian Federation. (W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Breeding:

    • Southeast Russia and northern China. (B107.w8)

    • Russia: south-central and south-eastern Siberia; possibly Mongolia, and one record from Heilongjiang in China. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6)

      • Two breeding sites found in Heilongjiang, Xhila and breeding suspected in Mongolia. (W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Non-breeders are occasionally found westwards to north-eastern Mongolia. (B107.w8)


  • Migrate through northeastern China, with most of the population (about 8,000 birds) crossing the Korean Peninsula to wintering grounds on Kyushu, Japan. (B107.w8)

  • Also winter along the River Naktong near Taegu, South Korea, and in southern Honshu, southern Japan. (B107.w8)

  • Several hundred cranes migrate along coastal China to winter on the River Yangtze, Hubei, Anhui, Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces of China. (B107.w8)

    • More than 80% of the population winters at Izumi in southern Japan. Also winters at Yashiro in Japan, Suncheon Bay in South Korea, and wetlands (especially Shengjin Hi, Poyang Hu, Longghan Hu) along the Yangtze River in China. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6) )

  • Cranes general: 
    • Migratory cranes spend days to weeks at pre-migratory staging areas, integrating into the flock as well as building up fat reserves. (B107.w8)
    • To migrate, they feed for several hours early in the morning, then on a clear day with breezes, fly up, climbing in large circles by flap-flying and lifting on thermals, to as high as 2,00m, then assume a V-formation, wings extended, and glide south; after a certain amount of altitude has been lost, they spiral again to regain height, before gliding. Over water, without thermals, they flap-fly in V-formation. (B107.w8)
    • Young cranes stay close to their parents during migration and learn the route. (B107.w8)
    • Cranes call constantly during migration. (B107.w8)
Occasional and Accidental
  • Vagrant to India, Kazakhstan, Taiwan. (W2.Dec06.w6)

  • Vagrant to Kazakhstan, Taiwan. (W2.Nov2013.w11)



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  • Breeding: "remote, wooded, upland bogs on gently sloping foothills and flat river terraces, mostly within the permafrost zone." (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)
  • Wintering: "freshwater marshes, wet grassland, coastal tidal flats and farmland." (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

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Intraspecific variation

Monotypic. (B107.w8)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Not globally threatened. [1996](B107.w8)

  • Conservation dependant. (B107.w8)

  • Total population estimate 9,000 - 10,000 individuals. (B107.w8)

  • Since the 1920s, numbers of this crane have risen and fallen dramatically. (B107.w8)

  • Steady increase in population since artificial feeding of the wintering population at Izumi, south-west Kyushu began in 1952. (B107.w8)

  • Vulnerable. Population 9,150, including 1,000 in China, 8,000 at Izumi in Japan, 50 in Yashiro and other Japanese sites. The population is declining or likely to decline. (B475)

  • Vulnerable. World population is estimated at about 9,500 birds, with 1,460 in China and Russia, about 114 in Korea, and more than 10,000 in Japan in 2005-2006. (W2.Dec06.w6)
  • Population estimates include variously 6,900 mature individuals and more recently a total of 11,600 individuals (based on an estimate of 10,500 in Japan, 1,050-1,150 in China and 114 in Korea, in winter). (W2.Nov2013.w11)


  • A key threat is loss and degradation of wetlands in the China and South Korea wintering grounds due to reclamation for development and dam building. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6)

    • The Three Gorges Dam and the proposed Poyang Lake outlet dam are particular threats. (W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Remote breeding grounds are less threatened by intense human activity than are the breeding grounds of most other crane species. (B107.w8)

  • Vulnerable to high human population density pressures in Japan, such as conflicts with farmers. (B107.w8)

  • Wetland drainage. (B107.w8)

  • Logging of taiga forests. (B107.w8)

  • Alteration of wintering wetlands in China. (B107.w8)

  • Risk of a disease outbreak or other catastrophe at the main winter feeding stations at Izumi in Japan, where about 80% of the world population of this crane winters. (B107.w8, B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • At Longghan Hu and Donhting Hu, declines have occurred due to conversion of rice-paddies to cotton fields. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Pollution of coastal waters, poisoning by pesticides, increased human disturbance and overfishing also are threats in China. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Rapid development at key wintering areas of Korea. (B107.w8)

    • The recently-discovered wintering site at Suncheong Bay, South Korea, is threatened by development. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • There is some hunting and poaching of these cranes. (B475)

    • There is some poaching and hunting of breeding birds. (W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)


  • In Japan, held in high regard. (B107.w8)

  • International agreements, conferences and co-operative measures for the protection of cranes in eastern Asia. (B107.w8)

  • Expanded research since the 1970s, particularly studies of the breeding habitats, migration routes and winter ecology. (B107.w8)

  • Several protected areas where key winter habitats are secured. (B107.w8)

  • Key protected areas include:

    • Norsky, Daursky, Khingansky (Russia);

    • Daguur, Ugtam (Mongolia);

    • Shengjin Hu, Longgan Hu, Poyang Hu (parts), Dong Dongting Hu, Chen Hu (China);

    • Mundok (North Korea);

    • Suncheaon Bay (South Korea);

    • Izumi-Takaono, Yashiro (Japan).

    (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • No reintroduction programmes to date. (B107.w8)

  • These cranes have been fed at their wintering grounds in Japan since 1952, starting due to an unusually harsh winter. (P97.1.w16)

Further conservation targets:

  • More research to indentify breeding areas. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Establish strictly protected areas for the Bikin river basin in Russia and Suncheon Bay in South Korea. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Expand the area of/number of wintering sites in Japan. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Expand the protected areas at Chongming Dao and Xinglong Donsha in China. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Enforce measures to minimise the threats to wetlands in the lower Yangtze river valley from the Three Gorges Dam. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6)

  • If the Poyang Lake outlet dam is constructed, measures to restore natural hydrology and active mitigation measures to ensure the presence of suitable foraging habitat. (W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • Prevent poaching and poisoning from pesticides. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

  • In China, establish local crane conservation groups. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)

General Legislation Legally protected throughout its range. (B107.w8)
CITES listing
  • CITES I. (B107.w8)
  • CITES Appendix I and II. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)
  • CMS Appendix II. (B475, W2.Dec06.w6, W2.Nov2013.w11)
Red-data book listing
  • Vulnerable B2ab(1,ii,iii,iv,v);C1+2a(ii) ver 3.1 (assessed 2012). (W2.Nov2013.w11)
    • Previously assesses as Vulnerable in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008. (W2.Nov2013.w11)
  • Vulnerable. [2000]. (B475)
  • Vulnerable. VU C1 ver 3.1 (2001). "This crane has a small population. A lack of baseline data makes identification of a population trend problematic. Apparent recent increases may reflect improved observer coverage or the displacement of birds from degraded and destroyed sites. Given the substantial threats to its habitat, it may currently be declining or is likely to decline in the near future. These factors qualify it as Vulnerable." 2006 assessment. (W2.Dec06.w6)

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Captive Populations

  • Well represented in captive breeding programmes, but breeding is inconsistent. (B107.w8)

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