Japanese Red-Crowned Crane
Species Survival Plan
Wetland plants in fall, winter and early spring; insects and other invertebrates during breeding season
Originally Native To
Japan, China, Russia and North Korea
48-60 inches tall
12 - 20 lb.
Long-legged, tall white bird with a black neck; black patches on its wings and red on top of its head; long beak
April and May
Wild 20 years
Captivity 40 years
Monogamous for life
About Japanese Red-Crowned Crane
The Japanese red-crowned crane is the second-rarest crane species with a total population in the wild of approximately 2,700 birds. It is illegal to hunt them in all nations where they normally occur.
Japanese red-crowned cranes have been maintained in captivity for centuries and are known to have bred in captivity since 1861. Highly aquatic birds with large home ranges, these cranes feed in water, using a “walk-and-peck” technique. From summer to fall, they forage regularly on pasturelands in Japan.
In the 1950s, farmers began spreading corn on their fields for the birds to eat during the long winter. This annual ritual, as well as marking electrical lines, helped bring the Japanese red-crowned crane back from certain extinction.
Its long-coiled windpipe enables it to trumpet so loudly it can be heard more than a mile away.
Japanese red-crowned cranes breed in northeastern China and adjacent parts of Russia. They migrate to coastal China and the Korean Peninsula. They prefer to nest and feed in marshes.
There is also a sedentary group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. A substantial amount of breeding habitat has been lost to agricultural development and other human economic activities.
The cranes pair for life; and their reputations for fidelity have made them a favorite motif on wedding kimonos. They have been honored for hundreds of years as symbols of good luck, happiness and love.
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