© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Grus grus

  • Name also: Common Crane, Eurasian Crane
  • Family: Cranes – Gruidae
  • Appearance: Very large long-necked and long-legged birds, mainly grey in colouring. Can be confused with Grey Heron, but Cranes fly with their necks extended straight ahead. On the ground their most characteristic feature is a bushy part of their plumage near their tails, actually formed by their dense tertial wing feathers.
  • Size: Length 96–119 cm, wingspan 180–222 cm, weight 4.1–6 kg.
  • Nest: Large mound of twigs, straw and grass, typically built on the edge of an open marsh among tall grassy vegetation.
  • Breeding: 1–3 eggs laid from late April, incubated by both parents for about a month. Fledglings leave the nest immediately after hatching, but learn to fly only after 63–70 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds throughout Finland as far north as the open fells of northern Finnish Lapland. Was earlier only found on extensive bogs, but nowadays also increasingly breeds in extensive reed beds around lakes and sea bays. Finnish breeding population has been growing, today estimated at 40,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Can often be seen migrating in large and noisy V-shaped flocks leaving Finland between August and October, or returning March–May. Winters in North Africa, the Middle East and SE and SW Europe.
  • Diet: Seeds, berries, Invertebrates, frogs, lizards and snakes, occasionally small rodents and young birds.
  • Calls: Loud, haunting and far-carrying trumpeting calls.

Cranes are mainly grey in colouring, with a white stripe running from their cheeks down the side of their necks, between black colouring on their necks and caps. They also have a small red patch towards the back of the cap. Cranes can be distinguished from the smaller Grey Heron by the bushy plumes around their tails (actually formed by their elongated wing feathers), and in flight by the way they hold their heads straight out in front (unlike the Grey Heron, which hunches up its neck in flight). Cranes’ long legs trail well behind their fairly short tails in flight (unlike geese and swans, which also fly in V-shaped skeins, but with their shorter legs invisibly tucked under their tails). Cranes have black legs, pale reddish bills, and red irises.

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