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Chinese Indigenous Wildlife --

Red-Crowned Crane

Red-crowned crane is also called mythical crane, It's a national Class I protection animal, whose body is slim (body length is above 1.3 m). It's white all over except the throat, neck and the back end of remex are black, which set off the vermeil caruncle on its head. It's handsome and energetic and it almost gathers all favorable features of cranes and has become theme for men of letters, artist and craftsman. Its appearance feature is “red crown and red eyes” (as described in “Florilegium”), thus it's named as red-crowned crane. Its crown skin is bared, which is dark red and black of Class II and III remex. Its remexes drop down to cover its tail while standing. Its eyes are brown, its mouth is green and its feet are black. It behaves gently and cultivated, and it could fly into the sky with scream reaching far away of the field. Therefore, it's treated as the auspicious symbol.

        Red-crowned crane is the City Bird of Qiqihar with very high viewing values. The propagating places of red-crowned crane are distributed in the Songnen Plain in Three-River Plain of China, Far-East of Russia and Japan, etc. Red-crown crane lives through the winter in southeastern coasts of China, the lower reaches of Yangtze River, Korean bay and Japan, etc. Zhalong Natural Reserve is also called “Hometown of Mythical Crane”, which is the main propagating place for red-crown cranes and many other cranes. The Xibo people living in the northeast often draw picture of cranes on their altar for sacrifice of ancestors.

        Red-crowned crane is a water fowl inhabiting in swamps, which almost inhabiting at the shallow area of the swamp where reed grows. It has no web between its feet fingers and belongs to wader migratory bird. They fly northward from the south where they lived through winter around vernal equinox each year with family as unit; they will scream and dance after arriving at Zhalong Natural Reserve to look for spouses, and then occupy their respective domains and collect grasses by mouths to make their nests. The diameter of their nests is around one meter, which is 15-30 cm from the water. They will lay eggs in the middle of April, the volume of their eggs is larger than goose egg, with brown spots on.

Once a firm pair bond has been established, Red-crowned Cranes usually remain mated for life, although they will replace a mate that has died.

Cranes are spring breeders, usually nesting in April or May. Male and female red-crowned cranes mature sexually at 3 to 4 years of age, Shortly before laying commences, both sexes participate in constructing a large ground nest of reeds and grasses in a marshy area, sometimes completely surrounded by water. Egg-laying occurs in the early morning hours and two large light brown eggs are laid two to four days apart. The clutch is incubation for 29-33 days by both birds.  The newly hatched chicks are covered in light brown down and are able to follow their parents almost immediately. Zhalong Natural Reserve in Helongjiang and Xianghai Nature Reserve in Jilin is two best breeding palces.

Red-crowned cranes are famous for their spectacular and elaborate courtship dances. During these graceful performance and dance (usually performed in pairs), birds circle each other while leaping and calling, head-bobbing to 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.

Crane is an important symbol to the people of China, Japan and other Asian countries. It typically represents long life, peace, happiness and fidelity. Out of the world total of only 15 species, china have no fewer than 8 species crane, Chinese are fond of crane, these birds have been subjects of Chinese music, poetry and dance, and such crafts as printing, painting, embroidery, wooden sculpture.


        The male and female cranes will incubate their eggs on shift for approximately 31days after laying eggs. The infant crane will be hatched out in the middle of May, with yellow brown feathers, but without red-crowned caruncle. The infant crane will have an extra large appetite in three and four months, who could eat 1 to 1.5 kg fresh fish per day. The infant crane grows fast, whose height and weight could be respectively 50-60 cm and above 5 kg. The feathers of the infant crane will be gradually growing thicker after August, and the infant crane will become strong and it could fly up. After the late autumn and frost descending, the cranes will fly back to the swamps in Jiangsu and Huaihe River area with family as unit or fly eastward across the sea to the southern islands of Japan to live through the winter. Every year they make nests and lay eggs to propagate nearby the former address of Zhalong. The feathers of the infant crane will become white in one year, and its sex will be mature in three years and then its red caruncle will appear. Generally the life span of the crane could be 50 to 60 years. Red-crowned crane could tolerate and survive cold weather, so that they have no choice but to migrate to south in winter. Red-crowned crane is a polyphagia bird who could tolerate cold weather. This has provided convenient conditions for artificial domestication and propagation

According to tThe investigation statistic, research statistics show the total amount of the wild red-crowned cranes all over the world is only around 1200, among whichand the amount of China takes up 60% of the whole number all over the world live in China. Therefore, the red-crowned crane belongs to is thunder first-class state protectione national first-class protected animal. The wild red-crowned cranes They in China inhabit mainly in the Nenjiang River, Song Huajiang River and Wusu Lijiang River in the northeast part of China. The largest amount of the red-crowned cranes living through the winter in Yancheng of Jiangsu is up to 600 per year, and the Zhalong Nature Protection Area in Heilongjiang is their habitat in spring and summer.