Demoiselle Crane

Demoiselle Crane

Scientific Classification

Common Name
demoiselle crane
Genus Species
Anthropoides virgo

Fast Facts

Both sexes look alike. The demoiselle crane has long legs, a long neck and a long, compressed bill. Its body is light bluish gray with light gray on the crown and along the back of the neck and the nape. The face and front of the neck is dark gray with long, pointed feathers hanging over the breast area. White ear tufts circle the sides and back of head. The iris is red and the beak is olive at the base, yellowish at the middle and orange at the tip. The legs and toes are black, as are the primary and secondary flight feathers, and the tail feathers are gray with black tips.
90 cm (36 in.)
2–2.7 kg (4.5–6 lbs)
Feeds mainly on seeds and other plants; occasionally feeds on  insects
28–36 days
Clutch Size
2–4 eggs
Fledging Duration
50–90 days
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 2 years
Life Span
Approximately 20–25 years
Found in the southern Ukraine and Crimea, southern Russia in the north and to Kazakhstan in the south; winters in northeastern Africa, India, Pakistan, and more rarely in Bangladesh and Myanmar
Inhabits semi-arid savannas and steppes or high plateaus
Global: It is estimated that 200,000–240,000 individuals remain in the wild
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Demoiselles will often fake a wing injury to distract predators from their nests.
  2. The mating dance of crane is spectacular. The birds walk stiffly around each other with quick steps, wings half spread, alternately leaping high in the air. During this display, the cranes bow deeply and stretch. Next, the cranes pick up sticks or pieces of grass, throw them in the air, and stab at them with their beak as they come down. Both sexes, mature and immature, take part in the dances.
  3. Cranes form lifelong monogamous pair bonds.
  4. During migration cranes fly with their head and neck straight and their feet and legs straight behind them. They are able to reach heights of 4,875–7,925 m (16,000–26,000 ft). Their migration is so long and hard that many die from fatigue, hunger, or predation from birds of prey.
  5. Demoiselle cranes are the smallest of all crane species and the second most abundant of the world's cranes (only the sandhill crane is more numerous).

Ecology and Conservation

Demoiselle cranes are protected by a few cultures in many parts of its range. In several Islamic regions, the birds are held in high regard because the Koran mentions them. In Mongolia and parts of India they are considered lucky birds and are protected by local people.

Demoiselle cranes are not endangered, however, their range and habitat has slowly been destroyed. Scientists record the last sighted breeding in Tunisia and Morocco was in the 1930s.

Of 15 species of cranes, 7 are endangered or threatened due to breeding habitat destruction.


Ellis, D. H., Gee, G. F., and C. Mirande. Cranes: Their Biology, Husbandry, and Conservation. Dept. Of Int., Nat'l Bio. Serv., Washington, D.C. 1996.

Perrins, C.M. and A. Middleton. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990.

International Crane Foundation:

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center.