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Red-crowned crane

Grus japonensis

Red-crowned crane at Paignton Zoo
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Birds
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Gruidae

This beautiful crane’s natural breeding habitat is wide-open pristine wetlands in north-eastern China, north-eastern Mongolia and Siberia.

They eat insects, aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians, small rodents, reeds, grasses, berries and other plants.

Interesting facts!

  • Red-crowned cranes form flocks in winter but otherwise live in pairs. Once they have mated, the pair will stay together for life.
  • The crane has one of the most beautiful dances in the bird world; these dances help to strengthen the bond between the mated pair.
  • The red-crowned crane has been a symbol of immortality for centuries.
  • The scientific name for the species, Grus japonensis, translates to ‘Japanese crane’, but they are also popular in China, Mongolia, Russia and North and South Korea.


The red-crowned crane is said to be the second rarest crane in the world. It is an Endangered species, with only around 2,000 adults in the wild. They are most threatened by loss of habitat, as the wetlands where these cranes breed are shrinking and are now often too small to sustain the species.