Classification and Range
The hooded crane belongs to the order Gruiformes. Other representatives of this order that can be seen at Woodland Park Zoo are the sunbittern, the red-legged seriema and the gray-winged trumpeter. Cranes belong to the family Gruidae.
The hooded crane breeds on inland marshes and bogs in remote eastern Russia. Non-breeding summer birds have been seen in southeastern Russia and northeastern China. Wintering areas are in coastal marshes and fields of Japan, South Korea and China. During post-breeding dispersal and migration, other habitats may be used such as wooded and open steppe.
Adult length: 36 inches (91 cm)
Adult weight: 7.5-8.5 pounds (3.5-3.9 kg)
Life span in the wild is undocumented; around 30 years at zoos.
I In the wild: Hooded cranes feed primarily on vegetation such as grass shoots, grains, tubers, berries and shoots of cereal crops. Their wild diet is supplemented with insects and small vertebrates.
Male and female hooded cranes mature sexually at about 3 years of age, but frequently will take longer to form pair bonds and successfully reproduce. As with all cranes, hooded cranes form lifelong monogamous pair bonds.
Hooded cranes usually arrive on their breeding grounds in early April. Eggs are laid from late April to mid-May. Hatching occurs late May to early June. Migration to wintering areas occurs between mid-August to late September, arriving in late October. Departure from these wintering regions occurs in March.
May I Have This Dance?
All hooded cranes look alike. The forehead is red-skinned and without feathers. This red area is covered with black hairlike bristles nearly down to the eyes. The remainder of the head and neck is white, sometimes tinged with gray. The white area on the neck extends about halfway down the front and nearly to the shoulders on the back. The remainder of the body is dark gray, often with a lighter gray or brownish tinge on the upper body with the tips of feathers gray. Primary, secondary and tail feathers are black. The iris is hazel-yellow to orange-brown, the bill is yellowish-brown and legs and toes are black.
Like all cranes, hooded cranes are renowned for their spectacular and elaborate courtship dances that strengthen bonds between mated pairs. During this graceful display, birds circle each other while leaping and calling, head-bobbing toward one another and bowing with spread wings. Grasses, sticks or feathers are frequently tossed in the air. These dances can be observed throughout the year as the birds continually reinforce their pair bonds.
Location at the Zoo
Hooded cranes are located near our Temperate Wetlands exhibit along with red crowned and white-naped cranes.
Seven of the 15 species of cranes are listed as threatened or endangered. The hooded crane is listed at endangered. The hooded crane is relatively more secure than other cranes of east Asia due to the absence of intensive human economic activity in their breeding grounds. Wild populations have increased from approximately 4,000 birds in the late 1970s to 9,400-9,600 birds listed in a 1996 census. The species does face several critical threats including drainage of wetlands and intensified logging pressures in Russia's taiga forests, reclamation of wintering grounds in China for agriculture, alterations in the hydrology of these areas and rapid development of key wintering grounds in Korea.
With several other zoos, Woodland Park Zoo is participating in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' (AZA) Population Management Plan (PMP). PMPs include conservation-oriented research, breeding of selected animals to maintain genetic diversity and cooperative educational efforts.
How You Can Help!
The effort to save threatened and endangered migratory birds requires cooperation and support at the international, national, regional and individual levels. You can help in this cause. Join and become active in Woodland Park Zoo and other conservation organizations of your choice. Recycle forest products. Eliminate or reduce pesticide use. Let your elected representatives know your views about conservation of migratory birds and their wild habitats.
Contact Woodland Park Zoo at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can support conservation efforts at the zoo. Discover more about endangered cranes by calling the International Crane Foundation at (608) 356-9462, or at their Web site. Learn other ways you can help conserve wildlife and the habitats they require for survival by visiting our How You Can Help page.
Sources and Suggested Reading
Grooms, Steve. 1992. The Cry of the Sandhill Crane. NorthWord Press, Minocqua, WI. 160 p.
Johnsgard, Paul A. 1983. Cranes of the World. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN. 257 p.
Horn, Gabriel. 1988 The Crane. Crestwood House, Mankato, MN. 48 p.
Voeller, Edward. 1990. The Red-Crowned Crane. Dillion Press, Minneapolis, MN. 59 p.