/ kreɪn /
In zoology, a large, wading bird of the family Gruidae, with long legs and neck, and powerful wings. Cranes are marsh-and plains-dwelling birds, feeding on plants as well as insects and small animals. They fly well and are usually migratory. Their courtship includes frenzied, leaping dances. They are found in all parts of the world except South America.
The common crane Grus grus is still numerous in many parts of Europe, and winters in Africa and India. It stands over 1 m/3ft high. The plumage of the adult bird is gray, varied with black and white, and a red patch of bare skin on the head and neck. All cranes have suffered through hunting and loss of wetlands; the population of the North American whooping crane G. americana fell to 21 wild birds 1944. Through careful conservation, numbers have now risen to about 200.
The sandhill crane of North America Grus canadensis reaches a height of 1 m/3.5 ft and has grayish plumage, with a red patch on the head. It winters in Mexico and breeds in the far north.