Cranes



Cranes

are united in the family of birds of the order of cranes; this family belongs to the ancients. The historical homeland of cranes is the American continent. From here these birds spread to Asia. Only then the cranes got to Africa, and to Australia. Their closest relatives are trumpeters and cowherd cranes.

Cranes


The crane family consists of fifteen species, united in four genera. On the territory of Russia there are seven nesting cranes, which belong to two genera. The largest crane is the Australian crane, and the smallest is the belladonna.

Cranes have a small head. The beak is straight and sharp. Predominantly in all types of cranes on the head there are unopened areas of skin that are brightly colored. The color of the tail feathers of cranes is usually white or gray. If you compare cranes with herons, the first have longer legs and an elongated neck. If you compare cranes to storks, then the legs of the cranes are longer, and the body is more elegant.

In the flocks of the cranes are lost only during the dry season (and migratory birds also during migrations). During the nesting period, these birds are kept in pairs. In the diet of cranes, which in principle is quite diverse, food of plant origin predominates. These are roots, shoots and seeds of plants. From animal food to the diet of cranes include a variety of insects, much less often small rodents and frogs. Feed these birds, usually in the morning or after noon.

The main food of the nestlings of cranes are insects. This food is rich in protein, which they need for normal development. A significant number of adult cranes molt at least once a year (after the breeding season), and during this period ten out of fifteen individuals can not fly. The reason for the latter is the fact of loss during moulting of all feathers.

The activity of cranes is mainly for daytime. Cranes spend a lot of time on grooming feathers. The life expectancy of the cranes is quite large – in natural habitats it exceeds twenty years, in captivity, cranes can live up to eighty years.

Birds that make up a squad of cranes are like a crane.

This is a delusion coming from the pictures in the children’s books. Furthermore. A squad of cranes is so diverse that it is difficult to find such a thing. This group includes the bustards – the largest of the living birds that live today (their mass reaches twenty kilograms), and small birds like cowherd birds (the weight of these individuals can be only thirty grams). The representatives of the detachment differ not only in size, but also in appearance in general. Some individuals are endowed with long legs, some are short; and the diversity of the coloring of plumage and the shape of the beak and can not speak.

Cranes are widespread birds.

They are found everywhere, except for South America and Antarctica. And the person knew about cranes from very old times. This is proved by rock carvings found in Europe, Australia and Africa with images of these birds.

Cranes are large birds.

They have a long neck and long legs. The height of the cranes, as a rule, ranges from ninety to one hundred and fifty-five centimeters. For example, the height of some Australian cranes reaches one hundred and seventy five centimeters. Thanks to this, this subspecies of the Australian crane (by the way, he lives in India) has become the highest bird in the whole world, able to fly. The wingspan ranges from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and forty centimeters. The weight of the cranes varies from two to eleven kilograms (weight of eleven kilograms is often the Japanese crane).

Cranes never sit on trees.

Unlike, for example, from storks. Visually, when the cranes are standing on the ground, their tail seems lush and long.This feeling is given by several elongated third-degree flight feathers of the wings of the cranes.

There are unique features for different species of the crane family.

These features depend on the ecological niche occupied by the cranes. For example, crowned cranes have the ability to rest on tree branches. This possibility is due to the presence of these cranes of the rear grasping toe. African belladonna is able to move fairly quickly along the grassy terrain, which is due to the short length of the fingers. A significant part of the species of cranes is much better adapted to the aquatic habitat. Adapted to it, these cranes have long legs, a beak and an elongated neck. In addition, they are characterized by wider toes. The Siberian Crane is the most suitable crane for living in water. The structure of his legs makes it possible for this bird without any difficulty to move along muddy soil. Moreover, the Siberian Crane has the longest beak. For the Australian crane, living on solonchak bogs, there are specific salt glands near the eyes.

There is sexual dimorphism for cranes.

Almost it is not so. Visible differences (in size, color of plumage) between the female and the male are minimized. But still, females of cranes are slightly smaller than males.

Cranes lead a sedentary lifestyle.

All species except those that reproduce in the north. Last winter they fly to more southern areas. During the migration, the cranes fly at an altitude of nine hundred meters to one and a half kilometers. When flying these birds try to catch warm ascending air currents. If the wind is unfavorable for the cranes direction, then only in this case they line up with a wedge. An interesting fact is that during the seasonal flight the cranes make one or two stops. The duration of these stops can reach several weeks. Their goal – to restore strength for further making the necessary distance. Young individuals during seasonal migrations, as well as on the site of the first wintering, are in close proximity to their parents. But with the onset of spring, young cranes can fly to the nesting place before their parents. All other types of cranes, indeed, lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Cranes during breeding decisively guard their territory.

The territory that the cranes adhere to during breeding can be quite large. Its area can reach several square kilometers.

Cranes are monogamous birds.

However, the popular belief in the people, the essence of which is that crane pairs do not disintegrate throughout their lives, are not entirely truthful. The latest studies conducted by ornithologists prove that from time to time the pairs of cranes change. In particular, if a female or male dies, then the other bird is likely to find another pair.

The rainy season coincides with the breeding season of cranes.

It is about sedentary species. This feature is due to the fact that it is during the rainy season that food is abundant for cranes. In those species that migrate, the pairs are added at the site of wintering. Near the future nest of cranes are arranged specific dances, which can include a walking gait, flapping wings, and also bouncing. Dances are necessarily accompanied by singing. The diameter of the crane nest can reach several meters.

The nest is settled on the edge of the swamp or not far from it.

There are times when cranes hide a nest in dense vegetation near the shore. It can be cane or reeds. To build a nest, cranes use different parts of plants, as well as sticks that are interwoven with dry grass. An interesting fact is that young individuals are able to equip several nests in the first year of their life. However, in the first year, young cranes do not lay eggs.In the second year, the cranes again build not one nest, but choose the only one to use. As a rule, in the laying of cranes there are two eggs, and their size depends on the size of the crane (that is, from belonging to one or another species). In large species of cranes, the length of the egg can exceed eleven centimeters. In a significant number of species of cranes, eggs are abundantly covered with special pigment spots (the color of the spots again depends on the species of the crane as well as on the geographical habitat). In most cases, only one chick survives. The ability to feed both chicks in cranes is only in a very productive year. In the hatching of eggs, both the female and the male participate. The incubation period usually varies from twenty-seven to thirty-six days. A few days after the birth of the chicks can leave the nest. The chicks are born covered with down. Full plumage can be observed later from fifty-five to one hundred and fifty days after the birth of the chicks (the period depends on the particular species). Cranel nestlings grow very fast. Three months after the birth of their growth can reach one and a half meters. Sexually mature cranes become at the age of four to five years (in conditions of captivity – at the age of three years).

The gray crane is a symbol of Russia.

In fact, this is so (one of the symbols). Probably everyone knows the crane’s flickering, which is heard in the sky during the flight of cranes to the place of wintering. The Gray Crane is a fairly large bird. Distribution area – Europe and Asia. In terms of numbers, the gray crane is considered to be the third species from the crane family. The plumage of a significant part of the body of the gray crane has a characteristic bluish-gray color. This helps the cranes to mask themselves among the wooded area from natural enemies. The tail and the back of the gray cranes have a darker color, while the belly and wings are somewhat lighter (although the wings are black in color). Under the eyes in these birds begins a wide strip of white color, which along the neck goes down. The beak is light.

Cranes


The gray crane is a large bird.

The height of individuals of this species is approximately one hundred and fifteen centimeters, the wingspan varies from one hundred and eighty to two hundred centimeters. The weight of an adult male gray crane is on average 5.1-6 kilograms, and the female is 4.5-5.9 kilograms.

The gray crane nests in the swampy terrain.

This is mostly so. To equip the nest, the gray cranes find a more or less dry area, with the sedge, reeds, that is, dense vegetation, directly under the nest. Immediately after the future parents have decided on the place for the nest, they together begin to announce this event in a lingering and complex voice. This measure allows gray cranes to mark their territory. In the spring time on the swampy meadows and the moorlands themselves, it is possible to observe the marriage dances of these birds. They include a variety of movements – from the graceful step to running around in a circle, which, moreover, is accompanied by wings of the wings. The stops in this case are necessarily associated with pirouettes and all kinds of bows. During the marriage dances the gray cranes then jump upwards, then they start throwing up bunches of grass or branches. Gray cranes prefer isolated wetlands. However, in the case of a lack of such areas, these birds can also equip the nest in small areas located near agricultural land. The beginning of the breeding season is in April, and the end is in July. The pair is formed before the flight to the meteorological nest. The nest is large. Its diameter exceeds one meter. Gray cranes build a nest using a variety of plant material.

The clutch of gray cranes contains two eggs.

As a rule, this is so. Once the chicks are born, they immediately leave their native nest.Duties of parents are in custody of the born chicks – one is guarded by the female, the other is taken care of by the male. The incubation period for gray cranes is on average thirty days. Both female and male participate in hatching.

The diet of gray cranes includes both food of vegetable and animal origin.

These birds feed on young shoots of grasses, seeds, flowers, berries, rhizomes of plants. In food eat and invertebrate animals, and small vertebrates. Thus, the gray cranes are not at all against eating shellfish, insects, worms and even fishes and rodents. The choice of a particular food is largely determined by the availability of a product at a particular time and in a particular area. In the diet of the gray crane, grain can also enter, if there are sown fields near the nest of this bird. In this case, the gray crane may even threaten the safety of the crop. Such situations, for example, are not uncommon in Ethiopia, Germany and Israel. Gray cranes are migratory birds. For wintering, they go to China, India, Iran, Israel, Syria, Asia Minor and Africa; at flights gray cranes develop a speed exceeding fifty kilometers per hour. For wintering these birds prefer hills that are almost entirely covered with dense grassy vegetation. Often hibernate near pastures and agricultural land. The number of individuals of the gray crane is gradually decreasing. This is mainly due to the fact that the areas used by the gray crane as nesting grounds are being reduced. This problem is most relevant in the European part of Russia (and in Europe in general), as well as in Central Asia. Dehumidification and drying up of marshes is a threatening factor in maintaining the population of the gray crane unchanged. Many countries, despite the fact that at this point in time the gray cranes are not threatened with extinction, have banned hunting for representatives of this species. In Russia, the gray crane remains the most common representative of the crane order.

Crowned crane inhabits the territory of the African continent.

This bird leads a sedentary image, it can be found in East and West Africa. The number of crowned cranes is about forty thousand individuals. However, despite the fact that the number of representatives of this species is still quite large, the crowned crane is listed in the International Red Book. The status of the crowned crane in the Red Book is estimated as a species requiring international protection. The species of crowned cranes includes two subspecies.

Crowned crane is a large bird.

The height of these birds varies from ninety-one to one hundred and four centimeters. The wingspan of the crowned crane reaches two meters. The weight of individuals is in the range from 3.9 to 5.2 kilograms. Crowned cranes are endowed with a long back finger, which is absent in most other family members. This finger serves cranes to easily linger on the branches of a bush or tree.

The color of the feathers of the crowned crane is of a dark gray color.

Or black. This refers to the plumage of a significant part of the body of these birds. But the covering feathers of the elytra and the wing in the crowned cranes are white. The main characteristic feature of crowned cranes is the possession of a large crest, adorning the head. This crest consists of hard gold-colored feathers. It is thanks to the tuft of this type and got its name. On the cheeks of the crowned cranes there are white and red spots.

Crowned crane is a sedentary bird.

Despite this, representatives of this species can still roam within the natural range. Such kind of migrations largely depend on the season, and seasonal migrations (in principle, like daily allowances) may well cover a considerable distance (even several tens of kilometers).Activity in individuals of this species occurs at daytime. Crowned cranes in a period not associated with breeding time, can gather in large enough flocks. But as soon as the rainy season comes, cranes are immediately broken up into pairs (although in a particularly unfavorable year the couple may well remain in the pack). At the same time, individuals try to keep themselves apart from each other and strictly guard their territory against all sorts of encroachments on it.

The arrival of the rainy season coincides with crowned cranes with a breeding season.

The male can take care of the female, for example, as follows. With the release of air from the throat sac, the male crowned crane produces specific clapping sounds, this measure is accompanied by a declination of the head first forward, and after tipping it back. In addition, the crowned cranes can produce peculiar pipe sounds. The latter are significantly different from the sounds produced by other types of cranes. The nesting area of ​​crowned cranes occupies a relatively small area, which ranges from ten to forty hectares. True, this territory is strictly guarded by crowned cranes from invading it from other birds. The nest is settled either directly in the water among dense vegetation, or very close to it in the grass. As a building material for the nest, as a rule, sedge is used. Masonry contains from two to five eggs. Eggs are pink or blue and devoid of stains. The duration of the incubation period varies from twenty-eight to thirty-one days. Although both parents take part in the incubation of eggs, the female devotes much more time to this than the male crowned crane. Chicks of brood type (as in other cranes) – this means that immediately after the birth they are able to leave the nest. Soon after the appearance of the offspring the crane family moves to higher grassy areas. Here, birds eat the tops of shoots and insects.

Man – the main threat factor for the populations of crowned cranes.

As you know, the number of representatives of this species tends to decrease (this fact was the reason for the inclusion of cranes in the lists of the Red Book). A man catches crowned cranes for the purpose of their subsequent trade; over the past thirty years, the scale of this trade has increased significantly. In addition, some countries in West Africa (for example, Mali) support the tradition of keeping crowned cranes at home. Another limiting factor in the development of the species is human economic activity, directed, in particular, to reducing the area of ​​marshes.

Sterkh is an endemic of the northern territories of Russia.

This means that the Siberian Crane (aka the white crane) lives on a limited range of habitats. This bird nests only on the territory of our country. For quite a long time, the biology of the white crane was hardly studied. However, after the founding of the International Crane Fund, which occurred in 1973, the Siberian Crane was given very close attention by ornithologists. Over the white cranes there is a threat of extinction; at the moment the number of this species on average is three thousand birds. This circumstance caused the Siberian Crane to be listed in the International Red Book, as well as the Red Book of Russia. The sturgeon is a fairly large bird. Its height is approximately one hundred and forty centimeters, the wingspan can reach 230 centimeters. The weight of a white crane, as a rule, varies from five to eight kilograms (or may exceed this number). The voice of white cranes is significantly different from the voice of other species of these birds. At Siberian Cranes it is clean and tall.

Two populations of white cranes are isolated from each other.

The western population of the Siberian Crane breeds in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, the Republic of Komi and the Arkhangelsk Region (nesting places are swampy marshes that are surrounded by forests), it can be provisionally called “Obskaya”. The eastern population of the Siberian Crane breeds in the north of Yakutia (these are hard-to-reach areas of the tundra). In winter, the white cranes of the “Ob” population migrate to the swampy territories of northern Iran and India, and the Eastern Siberian Cranes migrate to China.

White cranes are the most demanding of habitats.

Compared to other types of cranes, this is indeed the case. This circumstance makes the task of preserving the abundance of this species very difficult. The life of Siberian Cranes is much more closely related to the water way of life than other cranes. In this regard, white cranes have a special structure of the legs and a longer beak. A special structure of the legs allows the Siberian Cranes to move freely along the viscous soil.

White cranes shy away from man.

Even if a person appears far from the nesting site of these cranes, they can leave the nest. The latter poses a threat to the safety of nestlings of white cranes.

Cranes

The number of Australian cranes is not known.

This is due to the fact that for a long period of time the Australian cranes did not stand out as a separate species. The reason for this was the striking external similarity between the Australian and Indian cranes. The number of this species of cranes can vary from twenty thousand to one hundred thousand individuals. The Australian Crane is a sedentary bird. Despite this feature, the Australian cranes can migrate within their distribution range, and it covers the northern and eastern parts of Australia, as well as the insignificant territory of New Guinea. It should be noted that earlier the range of distribution of this species was wider. In the dry season, Australian cranes gather near the coastal freshwater marshes. Here, birds eat a tuber of Chinese walnut. In a wetter season, Australian cranes are dispersed to nesting sites. An Indian crane is the largest species of the crane family. His approximate growth is one hundred and seventy six centimeters, and the weight exceeds six kilograms. The wingspan of the Indian crane is on average about two meters forty centimeters. The population of the Indian crane can reach twenty thousand individuals. In general, it can be characterized as stable.

The belladonna is the smallest species of the crane family.

However, in prevalence, this crane ranks second (second only to the Canadian crane). The population of the belladonna is between 200,000 and 240,000 birds. The height of representatives of this species is about eighty-nine centimeters, and weight – two to three kilograms. Podvidov does not form belladonna.

The belladonna is a migratory bird.

In winter, they migrate to the territory of India, Pakistan, as well as to the regions of North-East Africa. Already in the period from August to September, these birds rally in flocks for a joint flight. The belladonna flies relatively low. However, during the flight through the Himalayas, these cranes are able to climb to a height of up to eight thousand meters. On the ground, wintering of the belladonna can be seen in some flocks with gray cranes. Interestingly, when flying to the nest sites, the belladies are already held in small groups of four to ten birds each.



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