Red crowned crane

Grus Japonensis

IUCN Status: Endangered


Cranes are generally omnivorous eating mainly plant material but red crowned cranes are much more carnivorous including fish, amphibians, smaller reptiles and birds, and crustaceans like crabs in their diet.


A clutch of 2 eggs are laid on the ground amongst waterside vegetation often in raised areas of shallow. Both birds share the incubation but it is predominantly the cock bird that defends the nest during this 34 day incubation period.

At The Zoo

Our pair share their natural marsh enclosure with Sitatunga (antelope) and during the breeding season aggressively move these antelope away from the nest site! May 2015 saw the first successful clutch of 2 chicks to hatch here since 1998 but unfortunately they succumbed to wet weather in the first weeks of their life.


Like all cranes they nest in and around wetlands and rivers. The over wintering areas tend to be estuaries, tidal and mud flats and paddy fields.

Fun Facts

This is one of the longest living species of birds with individuals getting over 70 years of age in captivity! It is the national symbol of the Japanese airlines mating for life and flying high for miles without tiring!


Two populations exist one that does not really migrate in Japan on Hokkaido island and another larger population breeding in Siberia and winter migrating to Korea and central east China. Although they flock for migration when breeding they are very territorial and hold large territories from other pairs.