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Crane Monk (Grus monacha)


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Type Name:Black crane
Latin name:Grus monacha (Temminck, 1835)
English name:Hooded grarane
Russian synonyms:crane monk
Squad:Crane (Gruiformes)
Family:Crane (Gruidae)
Gender:Cranes (Grus Pallas, 1766)
Status:Breeding Migratory View.

General characteristics and field characteristics

Small crane, growth about 1,000–1,150, wingspan about 1,700–1,800, weight about 2.5 kg. Females are slightly smaller than males. Coloring dark, blackish-gray, lighter on the belly. Head and neck are white, on the crown is a red “cap”. The legs are dark. Flying like other cranes. In nesting time it is kept in pairs and is very secretive; during wintering it gathers in large accumulations and is not very careful. The voice resembles the voice of a gray crane, but somewhat higher and hoarse, less melodic and sonorous. It differs from the gray crane in a darker color and has a white head and neck.

Hybrids between black and gray cranes are known. Their color is lighter than that of the black crane, and the neck is almost gray to the very head.

Coloring. Male and female in adult outfit. The plumage of the body and wings is aspid gray with a brownish tinge on the upper side. The sides of the head, nape, throat and neck are up to three quarters of the length white. The non-feathered parts of the head are black except for the red spot on the crown of the head and head. Rainbow from walnut yellow to orange brown. Bill is yellowish-horn in color, darker at the end. The legs are almost black, the underside of the fingers is olive green. There is no sexual and seasonal dimorphism in color.

Downy chick. The first outfit: the color of the thick down is generally brown-yellow, along the ridge from the base of the neck to the coccyx, and also on the shoulders is lighter. Each fluff individually is most lightly colored at the top, about a third at the base has a dark brown color, the tops of the fluffs on the head with a yellowish-golden sheen. The second outfit is not described. Nesting outfit: plumage is dark gray with a brownish tint. The forehead, sides of the head and throat are pale buff. Crown and nape reddish-buffy. The neck is gray with narrow buffy edging of feathers (Sudilovskaya, 1951, Pukinsky, Ilyinsky, 1977). Intermediate outfits are not described.


Nesting range. The nesting area is not well understood. It is mainly associated with larch taiga and, apparently, is almost entirely located on the territory of the USSR.

Figure 49. Black crane spread
1 - the estimated boundary of the breeding range, 2 - areas of documented nesting, 3 - areas of possible nesting, 4 - areas of regular meetings of non-breeding birds, 5 - main wintering areas.

Currently, black crane nesting is established reliably in only a few places. In Yakutia, the Central Siberian Plateau (the basin of the upper Vilyui) and the Olekmo-Charsky Plateau. The third breeding area is the river basin. Bikin in the Pozharsky district of the Primorsky Territory. The fourth nesting place is the Jewish Autonomous Okrug (Khabarovsk Territory), where a pair with chicks was met on June 21, 1977 in the vicinity of Kirga station (near Birobidzhan). Finally, the black crane nests in the lower Amur region, where pairs of birds were observed during nesting time on the river. Simmy, on the rivers of the Evoron-Chukchagir lowland (Evur, Umikan, Dosmi), near the lake. Evoron and Lake Udyl (true, finds of nests or chicks from these areas are still unknown). In all likelihood, the river basin. Bikin, Lower Amur Region and Jewish Autonomous Okrug can be considered as a single breeding area. In general, the study of the breeding area of ​​the black crane has only just begun (Vorobyov, 1963, Andreev, 1974, 1976, Neufeldt, 1977, Pukinsky, Ilyinsky, 1977, Neufeldt, Wunderlich, 1978, Pukinsky et al., 1982, Smirensky, Roslyakov, 1982) . Information on the nesting of this crane in Sakhalin needs to be verified.

Several areas are known where, in the summertime, non-nesting, apparently immature black cranes, regularly occur. The main of these areas: the south of Western and Central Siberia and the southern Transbaikalia, where birds were also often seen on the fly.

The autumn migration of black cranes nesting in Yakutia apparently occurs mainly through the north of the Irkutsk region, Buryatia and the south of the Chita region. Then they follow through northeastern Mongolia and Bargu and, skirting the Gobi desert from the east, through Inner Mongolia fall into Hebei province (PRC). From here they head east to the coastal lowlands of Northern China, and then through the bays of Bohaiwan and Liaodong to Japan. It is possible that from Hebei, some birds continue to travel south and winter in the Yangtze Valley. The second stream of Yakut birds flies, apparently, on the other side of Greater Khingan, through the vast Middle Amur plain, connecting there with cranes traveling from the Lower Amur Region through the Korean Peninsula to Japanese winters (Hemmingsen and Guildal, 1968, Neufeldt, 1977).

The main wintering places for black cranes in Japan are located on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu. Cranes hibernate on Honshu near the village of Yashiro in the territory declared a natural monument in 1921. About 90–100 birds winter here. The bulk of black cranes is kept in winter in Kyushu, near Izumi, where a national natural monument and a crane feeding station have also been created. Almost the entire population nesting in the USSR winters here. At wintering places, cranes appear in late October and early November (Nishida, 1982), and at nesting sites in the Primorsky Territory in early April (Pukinsky et al., 1982).

Daily activity, behavior

Black cranes are active during daylight hours, from dawn to dark. During the nesting period, a bird (male) free from incubation spends the night near the nest. At wintering in Japan, daylight hours are spent at feeding places, and in the evening they fly off to the overnight stay, which they leave again at dawn. Overnight places are removed at a distance of 10 km, but more often much closer. They spend the night either on water-flooded rice fields or on the open slopes of the surrounding mountains (Nishida, 1982).

Behavior and voice signaling of black cranes has been little studied. The bird moves through the swamp completely silently, raising its legs high, alternately smoothly feeding them forward and slowly immersing in swamp water. The body of the bird is in this horizontal position, and the head is inclined downward.

Figure 50. Different poses of a black crane
A - cranes in flight and before boarding, B - unison duet, C - anxiety pose, G – Z - calm poses during feeding and rest.

Only when the crane looks around does it raise its head high. To view a distant object, the bird stands on a mound, stretches out and even stands on its fingers, and not only the neck, but also the body takes a vertical position. Before going out into the open, the crane stops at the edge of the bushes and, hiding behind a tree trunk, examines the space in front. The entire path of the bird consists of slow forward movement, harboring and careful viewing of the terrain. All this makes the black crane extremely secretive and little noticeable.

The sight of the black crane is very well developed, and he notices a person from a distance of 800–1,000 m, after which he either quietly leaves or flies away. Hearing, apparently, plays a much smaller role in the life of this crane.

The black crane is much more silent than the gray one, and even in nesting places it cannot always be detected by voice. Most often, black cranes scream at dawn. Among the voice signals, call out screams, an alarm signal and an informative signal are distinguished, with which the birds, with little concern, tell each other about the danger and which sounds like a quiet “krrr. . . ”, Heard at a distance of not more than 50–70 m. The same signal in some cases, for example, during a bird’s flight, may sound loud, but after one or two repetitions it is replaced by a specific invocation cry.

Finally, the black cranes are characterized by a unison duet that can be heard at a distance of up to 2 km. During the performance of the unison duet, the birds stand parallel to each other with their necks elongated vertically upward (Fig. 50, b), the male lifts the elbow part of the half-expanded wing, but to a lesser extent than other cranes of our fauna. Birds perform the unison duo in various situations: when meeting, when marking the nesting territory, sometimes when changing partners in the nest, it is also an important component in the process of pair formation, etc. A more detailed classification of the sound signals of the black crane has not been developed.

The "dances" of the black crane were observed only at wintering sites. In the breeding range, they are rare and not described in detail (Pukinsky, Ilyinsky, 1977).


The black crane is a typical crane, but the size is much smaller than the gray crane. The body weight is about 2.5 kg, the wingspan is 170-180 cm. The color is tlmnaya, from afar it seems red or tlmno-brown, somewhat lighter on the belly. The head, throat, back of the head and neck are white, on the forehead there is bare red skin. On the back of the forehead and crown there is a dark red spot.

The legs are almost hr. The beak is yellowish-horn in color, darker at the end. Females are slightly smaller than males. Young people are less contrasted with a buffy head and neck.


The black crane inhabits deaf vast moss swamps within the taiga zone. Migrant. Very rare. Biology is completely unknown, no one has yet seen nests, clutches and chicks. All reliable information about this mysterious bird is of great interest. It differs from all cranes in black coloring and a white neck and head.