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A photo of a Sarus Crane (Antigone antigone)
Sarus Crane

Sarus Crane

Antigone antigone

The Sarus Crane (Antigone antigone) stands as the tallest of the flying birds, reaching a height of up to 1.8 meters. This majestic bird is nonmigratory and graces the open wetlands of South Asia, the seasonally flooded Dipterocarpus forests of Southeast Asia, and the Eucalyptus-dominated woodlands and grasslands of Australia.

Identification Tips

Adult Sarus Cranes are distinguished by their striking grey plumage, contrasting red head and upper neck, and a greyish crown. Their long, greenish-grey bill is pointed, and in flight, their black wingtips are visible against the grey wings. The juveniles are characterized by a yellowish bill base and a fully feathered brown-grey head.

Habitat

Sarus Cranes are found in a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, shallow wetlands, and flooded agricultural fields. They are also known to nest in large, circular platforms of reeds and grasses within shallow water.

Distribution

The species is distributed across parts of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The stronghold of the species is in India, where it is traditionally revered and lives in close proximity to humans.

Behaviour

Sarus Cranes are known for their long-lasting pair bonds and territorial nature. They perform elaborate territorial and courtship displays, which include loud trumpeting, leaps, and dance-like movements. They are largely nonmigratory, although some populations do migrate short distances.

Song & Calls

The Sarus Crane's call is a loud, trumpeting sound, produced by the elongated trachea that forms coils within the sternal region. These calls are often part of their unison displays, particularly during the breeding season.

Breeding

The main breeding season coincides with the rainy season. Pairs build large nests, which are platforms made of reeds and vegetation in wet marshes or paddy fields. The clutch typically consists of one or two chalky white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 31 days.

Similar Species

In Australia, the Sarus Crane can be mistaken for the more widespread Brolga. The Brolga has the red colouring confined to the head and not extending onto the neck.

Diet and Feeding

Sarus Cranes are omnivorous, foraging in shallow water or fields for a diet that includes insects, aquatic plants, fish, frogs, crustaceans, and seeds. They are known to probe in mud with their long bills, especially during the dry season.

Conservation Status

The Sarus Crane is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Threats to the species include habitat destruction and/or degradation, hunting and collecting, and environmental pollution. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect this species and its habitat.

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Sarus Cranes on Birda

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