demoiselle crane Fast Facts
The Demoiselle crane is the smallest species of crane. They were named by Queen Marie Antoinette, for its delicate and maiden-like appearance. They can grow up to nearly 1m tall, with a 2m wingspan. They have a blue grey plumage, with darker feathers down their neck and under their tail. They have wispy white feathers at the side of their heads. They are a true migratory bird, making one of the most gruelling migrations in the world. In late August and September, flocks of over 400 birds will fly to their wintering grounds in India. This means that they have to fly over the Himalayan Mountains, reaching altitudes of up to 7900m. Many unfortunately die from hunger, fatigue and predation from Golden Eagles. Then in March and April the following year they will migrate back to their northern nesting grounds. They can be found in various habitats including desert areas and grasslands. When nesting they prefer patchy vegetation that will hide them and conceal their nests to help protect them from predators.
The Demoiselle crane is an omnivore. This means it will eat a variety of grasses and seeds and also small invertebrates and small reptiles.
The Demoiselle crane is a monogamous species, which means that they will pair up for life. Once the birds reach their nesting grounds they will perform a courtship dance and vocalise to each other to reinforce their bond. They will nest on the ground laying 2 eggs which both the male and female will incubate for up to 29 days. They fiercely defend the nest from predators, often walking away from the nest looking like they have a broken wing to attract the attention of a predator.
Threats + Conservation
Threats in the wild include habitat degradation, human disturbance, dams and water diversions.
Despite being one of the smallest crane species in the world, they are known for making a very loud trumpeting noise whilst throwing their head back.