Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Gruiformes / Gruidae / Grus / Species

< > Grus vipio - White-naped crane (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)

Grus vipio - White-naped crane. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane pair. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane pair with chick. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane pair with chick. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane with chick. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane with chick. Click here for full-page view with caption. Grus vipio - White-naped crane with chick, foraging. Click here for full-page view with caption. White-naped crane distribution map. Click here for full-page view with caption.










Return to top of page

General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • White-necked crane
  • Grus antigone (nec L) Pall Zoogr. (B474)
  • Grus leucauchen
  • Scops vipio Gray
  • Antigone laucauchen
  • Pseudogeranus leucauchen
  • de Witnek Kraan (Dutch)
  • la Grue a cou blanc (French)
  • der Weissnackige Kranich (German)
  • Manazura (Japanese)
  • Japanese white-necked crane (B107.w8)
  • Grue Ó cou blanc (French) (B107.w8, W2.Dec06.w9)
  • Wei▀nackenkranich (German) (B107.w8)
  • Gruella Cuelliblanca (Spanish) (B107.w8, W2.Dec06.w9)
  • Megalornis vipio (B479.w16)

Names for newly-hatched


Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


Return to top of page


Species Author

Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)

Major References

B97, B107.w8, B475, B480.7.w7, B481.II.8.w16, J50.68.w1, P91.1.w6, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14

Aviculture references:
B97, B115.2.w7, B479.w16, D437, J23.17.w5, J50.68.w1, N1.116.w1, P1.1986.w4, P96.1.w1


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

Return to top of page

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

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • --

Return to top of page

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, D437, J23.17.w5, P1.1986.w4, P96.1.w1)

Species-specific information:

  • Hardy. (B97, B479.w16)
  • Become noisy and restless for a few days in the spring (probably related to migration). (B479.w16)
  • May swim, "swan-like" if given access to sufficient water (e.g. a lake). (N1.88.w1)
  • Dig a lot, hunting for earthworms. (B479.w16)
  • If kept with breeding waterfowl or gallinaceous birds they may eat catch and eat the ducklings or chicks. (B97)
  • The male is aggressive when defending chicks. (B479.w16)
  • A captive pair built a nest of dead, uprooted turf, about 18 inches in diameter and three inches deep, in the open. (B479.w16)
  • With a pair which bred in a mixed-species exhibit with other cranes, other birds and some mammals it was noted that the male chased other cranes away from his mate even in winter, including the pair's own offspring of the previous year, and attacked all larger birds or mammals which came near the nest during the incubation period, while smaller birds such as guinea fowl were largely ignored. They built their nest, about 1m diameter, from available vegetation (grass and twigs), away from water but surrounded by grass which provided isolation, particularly as the grass grew taller. They spent much time probing the earth and feeding on insects such as grasshoppers in long grass. One crane was seen to get what appeared to be a crayfish, thresh it back and forth then swallow it whole. The bathed once or twice a day in water such that all the bird except the head and neck was covered for a few seconds before rising and shaking. (J50.68.w1)
  • At Exeter Zoo, these cranes are kept in a large paddock (35m  x 18m, 115 x 60 ft) with a fence 2.5 m (approx. 8 ft) high. The house/shelter is at the top of the enclosure near the main keeper's gate into the enclosure, allowing minimum disturbance while feeding and watering the cranes. The top half of the enclosure is mowed before and just after the breeding season, keeping the grass relatively short, and planted with various bushes and a tree (Ailanthus altissima - Tree-of-Heaven). The bottom area is very wet, with a stream running lengthways through the enclosure, and a number of naturally-occurring pools; grass and native plants are allowed to grow long. The cranes nest on an elevated small island in the pond, or at the edge of the pond, making a nest from reeds and grasses, and both birds incubate; they have been noted to always choose a new nest site. If allowed to hatch a chick, both are very attentive and feed the chick constantly with insects; the parent-reared chicks have been found to have a very high growth rate. They are vulnerable to predation: one year the female was apparently killed by an aggressive Mustela erminea - Stoat while on the nest, with the eggs rolled away. One chick was lost to heatstroke and one probably to exposure (inexperienced parents). (N1.116.w1)
  • Eggs were artificially incubated at 37.5 C (99.5 F) and 50-55% relative humidity, being transferred for hatching at the time of external pipping to a hatcher set at 37.2 C (99 F) and high humidity (as high as possible); once hatched, chicks were placed in a brooder at 32 C (89.6 F) with a non-slip rubber floor and a cuddly toy as a "mum" substitute for 24 hours before being moved to a rearing pen. (N1.116.w1)
  • Chicks being artificially incubated were noted to always hatch at 0700 - 0900 in the morning. (N1.116.w1)
Management Techniques


Bird Husbandry and Management

Return to top of page

External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

  • Height: 125 cm or taller. (B107.w8); 125 cm. (B475)
  • Wingspan: 200-210 cm. (B107.w8)
Adult weight General 4,750-6,500 g. (B107.w8)
Male --
Female --
Newly-hatched weight Two chicks at the Zoological Society of Philadelphia weighed 112g and 127g at one day old (at two days, 96 and 116g, at three days, 92g and 109g, four days, 96 g and 124g, five days, 97g and 160g, six days, 114g and 182g, seven days 118g and 200g. (B480.7.w7)
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)

Return to top of page


Adult Bill Male Dull green. (B97)
Variations (If present) Female: --
Eyes (Iris) Male Orange. (B107.w8) Yellow. (J50.68.w1)  Orange-yellow. (B97)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Bill Lighter in colour than in the adult. (J50.68.w1)
Eyes (Iris) Iris dark; turning to yellow by about 10 months of age. (J50.68.w1)

Return to top of page


Adult Male Pinkish-orange. (B107.w8); Pinkish. (B481.II.8.w16) Dull pink. (B97)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Lighter in colour than in the adult. (J50.68.w1)

Return to top of page


Adult Male
Body slate grey. Head has face bare red skin, ear patch grey feathered, nape down the back of the neck white, and throat white to about a third of the way down the neck, sides of the neck are grey, forming a vertically pointing stripe of grey up the sides of the neck. (B107.w8)

Body slate grey. Face bears an extensive red patch. Throat white, vertical stripe from crown down the back of the neck white. (B475)

Variations (If present)
Juvenile Similar to adult, but head brown and throat pale. (B107.w8, B475)

Return to top of page

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 the white-naped crane, red skin with only sparse black feathers covers the sides of the face to behind the ears; a round patch of grey feathers surrounds the ear within this area. (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)

White-naped crane specific:


  • Penetrating high-pitched calls. (B107.w8, B475)

Return to top of page

Newly-hatched Characteristics

  • "Brownish yellow with darker spots." (B107.w8)
  • Upperparts yellowish-fawn, with parts of the back more chestnut; underparts whitish. Bill yellowish-fawn, tip darker. Legs and feet pinkish-grey. (B479.w16)
  • Cranes general: The initial down is replaced by a second coat of down; this is replaced by feathers. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page

Detailed Anatomy

  • The trachea is coiled and fills the sternum. (B107.w8); trachea coiled in the keel of the sternum. (B481.II.8.w16)
  • Cranes have ten functional primary flight feathers (with a vestigial 11th in most species), and 18-25 secondary flight feathers. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page


Reproductive Season

Time of year Spring; eggs laid April to May. (B107.w8)
No. of Clutches Repeated clutches have been reported. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page

Nest placement and structure

  • In open wetlands, a mound of dried sedges and grasses. (B107.w8)
  • In the steppes, an islet slightly elevated from surrounding marsh, forming a nest of dry, dead grass, flat and with a small central depression. (B480.7.w7)
  • In captivity, usually a mass of grass is used. (B480.7.w7)

Return to top of page

Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average Usually 2. (B107.w8)
Range --
Egg Description
  • More bluish-green base colour than those of Grus grus - Common crane. (B479.w16)
  • Greyish-green, with dense spotting, 93 x 62 mm, 195 g. (P91.1.w6)
  • Ovate to elongate ovate, shell dull with fine pitting, buffy-brown to smoke grey ground colour, with markings, more at the large end, which may be various colours of browns anf pale grey. Six eggs averaged 99.3 x 61.46 mm (range 92.7 - 103.0 x 58.5 - 62.7 mm). (B480.7.w7)
  • Eggs averaged 88.61 x 60.35 mm, with brown mottling over a cream base.. (N1.116.w1)

Return to top of page


  • 30-33 days. (B480.7.w7)
  • 28-32 days. (B107.w8)
  • Incubation begins after the first egg has been laid. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page


  • Asynchronous. (B107.w8)
  • In the wild, hatching in late May. (B480.7.w7)

Return to top of page


70-75 days. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page

Sexual Maturity

  • 2-3 years. (B107.w8)
  • A male produced semen at two years and good-quality semen at three years old. (P91.1.w6)
Females 2-3 years. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page


Feeding Behaviour

  • Digs to get roots and tubers, forages for grain and animal prey. (B107.w8)
  • In winter, feed for hours in the early morning, sometimes again at midday and then again in the afternoon before leaving for the roosting site. (B480.7.w7)
  • Feed by probing in the ground, also e.g. catch insects amongst tall grasses. (B480.7.w7)
  • Dig for tubers, also feed on seeds of grasses, glean grain after the harvest, and walk, searching for seeds or small animals on the surface of the soil. (B481.II.8.w16)
  • Fed by the parents initially but soon also start picking up food also. (B480.7.w7)

Return to top of page

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)
  • Both birds incubate and each may incubate during the night. (B480.7.w7)
  • Both birds incubate. Video recordings of a pair of incubating white-naped cranes in captivity showed that the female was on the nest 66.5% of the time, incubating for a mean of 69.2 minutes (for 32 incubation bouts) while the male was on the nest 26.7% of the time, incubating for a mean of 32.2 minutes (for 38 incubation bouts. Neither bird was incubating for 6.9% of the time; on average, the time off the nest between incubation bouts was only 3.9 minutes (range 1.2 - 9.5 minutes). (P76.1989.w1)
  • 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)
  • Both care for the chicks, feeding it from the day after hatching and continuing even once the chicks start picking up food for themselves. (B480.7.w7)
  • Cared for by both male and female. In captivity, a male was observed to form a nest of turf every night to brood the chicks. (B479.w16)
  • 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)
  • About a third of pairs may successfully fledge two chicks. (B481.II.8.w16)

  • A female in captivity was seen still feeding the chick when it was three months old. (J50.68.w1)
  • In the wild, juveniles were noted to still be with thei2r parents in February and to remain with them at least for part of the migration back towards the breeding grounds. (B480.7.w7)

  • In captivity, the male drove the chick away at 10.5 months. (B480.7.w7)

  • 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)

Return to top of page

Social Behaviour

  • Strongly territorial year round, particularly pairs with chicks. (B480.7.w7)
  • In winter, found in groups, for example roosting in flooded rice fields. In the past at Izumi in winter , they generally remained in families (groups of 2, 3 or 4) but now remain as a large group feeding on the food which is provided for them although they still tend to remain in their family groups, and some pairs, particularly the males, males enforce a gap around their families. (B480.7.w7)
  • Migrate in flocks, with several groups taking off, flying in circles to higher elevation before setting off to the northwest. (B480.7.w7)
  • In winter, both groups of nonbreeders and smaller family groups (pairs plus that year's young). (B481.II.8.w16)
  • 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)

Return to top of page

Sexual Behaviour

  • Monogamous; pairs have formed already by the time the cranes reach the breeding areas, although they may remain in flocks for a while, breaking up into pairs after the marshes thaw, for nesting. (B480.7.w7)
  • Often dance while courting and during the spring in the period before nesting, with several pairs gathering in one spot and dancing in succession. (B480.7.w7)
  • 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.


Return to top of page

Predation in Wild


Return to top of page

Activity Patterns

  • Bathe once or twice a day, nearly totally submerging (all except the head and neck), vibrating under water for a few seconds then standing, shaking the feathers and preening for some time. (B480.7.w7)
  • During incubation, the non-brooding bird stands only a short distance from the nest to roost. (B480.7.w7)

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)

Return to top of page

Natural Diet

Adult Diet

  • Roots and tubers of wetland plants such as sedges, insects, small vertebrates, seeds, rice gleanings. (B107.w8)
  • Outside the breeding season, more waste grain, seeds and tubers. (B107.w8)
  • Note: cereal grains such as rice are provided in Japan at winter feeding stations. (B107.w8)
  • A study of Grus vipio - White-naped crane in captivity and offered vegetable (mainly corn (maize) and animal (mainly freshwater fish) foods found that the birds ate more animal than vegetable food January to April and more vegetable than animal food May to October, with equal amounts of the two food types November to December. Over the whole year, more vegetable than animal food was taken. Calory intake decreased February to April then increased. (P91.1.w5)

Return to top of page

Newly-hatched Diet


Return to top of page

Detailed Physiology Notes

Return to top of page

Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


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

  • China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, Russian Federation. (W2.Dec06.w9,W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Breeding:

    • North-east Mongolia, north-east China, extreme south-east Russia. (B107.w8)

    • Dauria, on the Russia-Mongolia-China border, the Amur and Ussuri basins on the Sino-Russian border and in China on the Song-nen and Sanjiang plains. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)


  • Migratory, wintering in Korea, south Japan and in central-eastern China along the middle and lower River Yangtze. (B107.w8)

  • Cranes from the eastern part of the breeding range migrate through the Korean Peninsula. Several hundred birds winter in the Demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea, while about 2,100 continue to southern Japan, to Kyushu, where they are found with the main wintering population of Grus monacha - Hooded crane. (B107.w8)

  • About 3,000 birds from the western part of the breeding range migrate across central and eastern China to wintering grounds in Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces of China. (B107.w8)

  • Migrate along the Songnen plain and the Gulf of Bohai to wintering grounds in the Tangtze River basin, particularly at Poyang Hu (about 2,500 individuals) and Dongting Hu lakes, also along the Korean peninsula to the Demilitarised zone along the North Korea/South Korea border, particularly at Cholwon (about 300 individuals), and to Japan (southern Kyushu). (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • 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 Kazakhstan and Taiwan. (W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)



Return to top of page


  • Wetlands; lowland, foothill and montane habitats. (B475)
  • Note: shares much of the same breeding range as Grus japonensis - Red-crowned crane, but prefers less aquatic areas than the red-crowned crane. (W2.Nov2013.w14)
  • Breeding:
    • "shallow open wetlands and wet meadows in broad river valleys and along lake edges. Also frequents grassland and cropland adjacent to breeding areas." (B107.w8)
    • "Wet steppe and forest-steppe zone, in grassy marshes, wet sedge-meadows, reedbeds in broad river valleys, lake depressions and boggy upland meadows/wetlands." (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)
      • Areas with low grazing pressure, where the nest is easily concealed, are preferred. (W2.Nov2013.w14)
  • Migration and wintering:

Return to top of page


Intraspecific variation

Monotypic. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page

Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Vulnerable. (B107.w8)

  • Current [1996] estimate of 5,000 birds. (B107.w8)

  • Vulnerable, with a small (5,500-6,500), probably declining population. [2000](B475)

  • The population is estimated at 6,500 and is probably declining. (W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Population estimated at 5,500 - 6,500 individuals (based on 1,5000 wintering in China, 1,920 counted in Korea in 2009, and a maximum of 3,142 at Izumi, Japan, in 2009 (with some double counting possible between Izumi and Korea). The population trend is "decreasing". (W2.Nov2013.w14)


  • Habitat loss, hunting and effects of war led to a steady decline through the first half of the 1900s, with some recovery from the 1950s onwards. (B107.w8)

  • Most significant continuing threat is the extensive loss of and alteration of habitat in the Amur Basin, the Sanjiang Plain in northeast China, and other parts of the breeding range, mainly due to encroaching agriculture. (B107.w8)

  • Heavy developmental pressure on migration and wintering areas in China and Korea (particularly the Korean Demilitarized Zone, DMZ). (B107.w8)

  • About 40% of the population winters at Izumi, southwest Kyushu, Japan, where the birds are artificially fed. This congregation makes them potentially susceptible to disease outbreaks or other catastrophic local events. (B107.w8)

  • Main threat: Habitat loss as wetlands are taken over by agricultural expansion, particularly in the breeding grounds, and the increasing human demand for water. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)

    • In the western (Durian_ part of the range, prolonged drought, which is cyclical, has exarcerbated wetland loss. (W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Steppe fires also threaten the breeding birds. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Grazing by livestock can disturb the cranes and reduce availability of nesting habitat. (W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Wintering ground threats include development and increasing human disturbance of the wetlands of the Yangtze basin, the effects of the Three Gorges Dam on the same wetlands, and the possible development of the wetlands in the Korean Demilitarised Zone. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Hunting is an additional minor threat. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Poisoning is a potential threat. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Risks from agricultural chemicals may have been underestimated. (W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Flocks in China wintering outside reserves are at risk from hunting, disturbance, pesticide pollution and habitat loss (agricultural expansion). (W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • In Korea, at Cholwon, a change in rice paddy management, from spring to autumn ploughing led to reduced foraging rates and possibly reduced overwinter survival. (W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • In Japan, a high percentage winter at Izumi, which is in the main poultry region; there is an increased risk of disease and the possibility of extreme control measuresif disease occurs which is seen as a threat to poultry farms. (W2.Nov2013.w14)


  • Series of bilateral migratory bird agreements in east Asia. (B107.w8)

  • International agreements to protect key habitat at Lake Khanka on the Chinese-Russian border and in the Chinese-Russia-Mongolia border area. (B107.w8)

  • Winter counts annually: in Japan since the 1950s, in Korea since the 1970s and in China since the early 1980s. (B107.w8)

  • Field studies. (B107.w8)

  • Activities for conservation by a range of NGOs. (B107.w8)

  • Protected areas which have been established include:

    • Khingansky, Muraviovka and Lake Khanka in Russia;

    • Daguur in Mongolia;

    • Zhalong, Xingkai Hu, Xianghai, Horqin, Poyang Hu, Dong Dongting Hu and Shengjin Hu in China;

    • Kumya and Mundok in North Korea;

    • Izumi-Takaono in Japan. 

    (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Increased Japanese wintering population due to artificial feeding. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Limited release of semi-wild birds at Zhalong Nature Reserve, China, and Khinganski Nature Reserve, Russia. (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:

  • Establishment of transboundary protected areas: at the Tumen estuary (Russia/China/North Korea), and the Argun River (China/Russia); (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Establishment of protected areas on the Sanjiang plain (China); (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Secure the conservation status of the Cholwon and the Han river estuary in the Demilitarised Zone of the Korean Peninsula. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Increase the area and number of the Japanese wintering sites; (B475, W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Enforce conservation measures to ensure that threats to the wetlands along the Yangtze River from the Three Gorges Dam (and other dams) are minimised. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Control fires in the breeding grounds in spring. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Prevent poisoning from pesticides, and poaching. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Establishment of local protection of small nesting and wintering sites. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Establishment of local crane conservation groups in China. (B475, W2.Dec06.w9)

  • Identify priority sites, via establishment of a database of information on existing reserve boundaries and records of cranes. (W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Ensur that conservation measures are targetted to within 3 km of roosting sites (the maximum distance foraging cranes will travel from the roost). (W2.Nov2013.w14)

  • Develop emergency response plans for use in the event of an outbreak of avian disease at Izumi. (W2.Nov2013.w14)

General Legislation Legally protected in all range states. (B107.w8, B475, W2.Dec06.w9, W2.Nov2013.w14)
CITES listing
Red-data book listing
  • Vulnerable A2bcde+3bcde+4bcde(ver 3.1), 2012 assessment. (W2.Nov2013.w14)
    • Previously assessed as Vulnerable in 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004,2006, 2008. (W2.Nov2013.w14)
  • Vulnerable "because it is undergoing a rapid and continuing population decline, largely as a result of the loss of wetlands to agriculture and economic development." (W2.Dec06.w9)

Return to top of page

Captive Populations

  • Breed readily in captivity. (B107.w8)

Return to top of page



Return to top of page