The Sarus crane (Grus antigone) is the tallest flying bird that is found mostly in marshlands. Once hunted extensively during the colonial era, it is now found only in certain parts of the globe, mainly Southeast Asia, northern Australia, and the Indian subcontinent. The existing population of this bird (Grus antigone) is being studied extensively by scientists and ornithologists. The stature of this avian is such that it is noted even from a distance. A mated pair of this bird is something that one can focus on for hours. The resemblance to human behavior is uncanny. The name of the bird essentially means the 'lake bird' in Hindi. The Indian Sarus crane is a state symbol for the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Keep on reading for more information about this beautiful bird. If you like reading about this bird, you may enjoy reading our articles about the moorhen and African penguin.
What do they prey on?
Tubers, seeds, grains, rice, frogs, fish, insects, crustaceans, water snakes, and small vertebrates
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
11-26 lb (5-12 kg)
How long are they?
35-51.1 in (90-130 cm)
How tall are they?
4.9-5.9 ft (152-180 cm)
What do they look like?
Light gray body plumage, red legs, red head, and upper neck
What are their main threats?
Humans and invasive species
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Wetlands, lowlands, and marshlands
Southeast Asia, northern Australia, and the Indian subcontinent
Sarus Crane Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a Sarus crane?
A Sarus crane is a bird with a pretty red head and upper neck that belongs to the phylum Chordata, order Gruiformes, family Gruidae and species Antigone.
What class of animal does a Sarus crane belong to?
Sarus cranes belong to the class Aves, which means they are birds.
How many Sarus cranes are there in the world?
Only 15,000 to 20,000 Sarus cranes are left in the Indian subcontinent. The Sarus crane population in the world is estimated to be around 25,000 to 37,000 individuals. The Sarus crane world population needs to be protected. In Australia, there are only 10,000 Sarus cranes left and in India and its surrounding countries, there are 8,000-10,000 cranes. In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam there are even less with a total population of 800 to 1,000 Sarus cranes.
Where does a Sarus crane live?
Sarus cranes, Grus antigone, are usually found around wetlands, marshlands, and lowlands.
What is a Sarus crane's habitat?
This bird is mostly found in Asia. The Sarus has two subspecies, the Indian Sarus crane, or the Antigone antigone, is found in the Indian subcontinent (India and her neighbors) while the Antigone antigone sharpii is found in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. The majority of these birds found in India reside in northern India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. They are also found in Central India, Terai Nepal, Pakistan, and Myanmar.
Who do Sarus cranes live with?
Sarus cranes (Grus antigone), live in large flocks of 50 to 80 individuals. They are also found in small groups of three or four. Even in large flocks, a mated pair of birds always stay close. A pair of Sarus cranes with young ones stay close like a family. They are most active during the rainy season which is their breeding season. The flock size largely depends on the breeding season with mating pairs replacing non-breeding birds. The choice of residence differs for breeding and non-breeding birds. In northern India, this kind of behavior has been recorded. Unlike other cranes, these birds are non-migratory in nature which makes them unique.
How long does a Sarus crane live?
In captivity, an albino Sarus crane can live up to 20 years.
How do they reproduce?
The heavy monsoon rains coincide with the mating and breeding season of Sarus cranes. However, in certain areas, breeding has been observed throughout the year like in Keoladeo-Ghana national park in Rajasthan. Sarus cranes mate for life, however, in some cases they may get divorced or find a replacement. The courtship of this species is initiated by either the female or the male through dances and various vocalisations to attract the attention of the potential mate. Nests are made with great care in natural wetlands or in crop fields in order to protect the young ones from potential predators. A clutch of eggs consists of one or two eggs. The eggs are laid in a 48 hour gap.
Both parents are involved in incubating the eggs, however, the mother takes greater responsibility. The eggs may take as long as 35 days to hatch. Juvenile chicks start to follow their parents around immediately after birth. The nesting occurs mainly around aquatic plants and vegetation. As these nests are located near water, they are in the need of frequent repairment as the surrounding water tends to decompose the twigs. A juvenile starts to look for its own mate after two years of age.
What is their conservation status?
The status of Sarus cranes, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, is Vulnerable.
Sarus Crane Fun Facts
What do Sarus cranes look like?
A Sarus crane's head is red and so is the upper neck. The body and wings are formed mostly of gray feathers. The bird has orange-red irises and a greenish-gray bill. Juveniles differ in appearance from the adults. The wingspan is around 87-98 in (220-250 cm).
How cute are they?
These birds are rather tall and imposing. Juveniles look rather cute following their parents about on their wobbly legs!
How do they communicate?
Loud trumpeting calls are a specialty of this crane species. The Sarus crane (Grus antigone) sound of loud trumpeting can be heard for miles! They communicate via a plethora of visual and vocal signals. Both agonistic and acoustic behaviors have been observed in these cranes. The bugle call of cranes can be heard over 2.5 mi (4 km) away.
How big is a Sarus crane?
The Sarus crane size is considerable. This crane species is about 35-51 in (90-130 cm) in length. The Sarus crane height is about 5 ft (152-156 cm), and sometimes near 6 ft (183 cm). No wonder it is the tallest flying bird in the world!
How fast can a Sarus crane run?
A Sarus crane (Grus antigone) can run moderately fast. A flying Sarus crane can cover long distances.
How much does a Sarus crane weigh?
The Sarus crane average weight varies with gender. Males weigh more than females. However, the Australian species is lighter than the Indian population weighing around 18.5 lb (8 kg) while the latter weighs around 26 lb (12 kg).
What are their male and female names of the species?
Males and females of this species do not have different names.
What would you call a baby Sarus crane?
A baby Sarus crane (Grus antigone) is called a chick.
What do they eat?
A Sarus crane's (Grus antigone) diet includes frogs, fish, insects, crustaceans, birds eggs, eggs of turtles, water snakes, and small vertebrates. Aquatic plants also form a part of their diet as do seeds, rice, and grains. The best of these resources are given to the chicks to fulfil their nutrient needs.
Are they aggressive?
The Sarus crane defense lies in its beak and if they feel threatened they can turn aggressive. A Sarus crane uses dancing as a displacement activity whenever it feels threatened.
Would they make a good pet?
Though sometimes they are found around human settlements, especially agricultural fields, these birds are not good pets.
Did you know...
Human activities like deforestation have rendered Sarus cranes endangered. In 2011, Sarus cranes bred in captivity were reintroduced in Thailand to help increase their population.
Sarus cranes express emotions like love, attachment, and anxiety via unison calls. An individual gives out a call in order to ensure its mate of their mated status. It may also be simply a form of communication. Usually, the male starts the call and then together both birds continue to call in a way that by the end of the session, it is impossible to distinguish between the two voices. Scientifically, this kind of unique call is called a unison call. In human terms, it is as if they are trying to finish each other's sentences. These calls are made standing atop a nest as well.
Sarus cranes exhibit site fidelity and they choose to return to the same site for breeding each year if the habitat remains intact. This kind of behavior is found in many other birds like eagles and owls.
In Australia, the population of this species is smaller in size and is more similar to the brolga.
All around Southeast Asia, there are various beliefs surrounding these cranes. In India, they are considered sacred. They stand for marital virtue (as they mate for life) and in parts of Gujarat, it is customary to take a newlywed couple to see a pair of Sarus cranes. Also, Indian Sarus cranes are revered in Lumbini as it is believed that they have a special connection to Lord Buddha. In Vietnam, it is believed that Sarus cranes are symbols of good luck! In Myanmar, these cranes are mainly found in the Ayeyarwaddy area where they are protected because of religious reasons.
What are the differences between juvenile and adult Sarus cranes?
Sarus crane chicks have cinnamon-brown feathers as opposed to light gray feathers like the adults. Also, the area around the ear in adults is covered in grayish feathers. This ear patch cannot be found in a young one. Adult cranes also have a redhead while a juvenile has a brown-gray head. The bill is greenish-gray in an adult bird, while there is a yellowish tinge in the case of a juvenile. You can tell the difference between the two through differences in their physical appearance.
How do Sarus cranes court a mate?
The Sarus crane courtship starts with dances and calls. A Sarus crane dances from an early age as a juvenile. During courtship displays, females utter two loud screeching calls while males utter only one.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including snowy egret, or horseshoe crab.
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