Family Cranes (Gruidae)

Least Concern

Common Crane (Grus grus)


French: Grue cendrée German: Kranich Spanish: Grulla común
Other common names: Eurasian Crane

Ardea Grus


, 1758,



Hybrids with G. monacha recorded on migration in NE China#R. New race archibaldi appears to be distinctive owing to absence of red on hindcrown, but other characters remain to be determined; not yet accepted by some authorities#R. E form lilfordi (Turkey to EC Asia; wintering NE Africa E to S China) sometimes recognized, but here regarded as probably undiagnosable, differences from nominate believed to be based on plumage colour variations due in part to differences in feather-painting behaviour. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. g. grus (Linnaeus, 1758) – N, C & E Europe to NC China and Russian Far East; winters in France, Iberian Peninsula, NW & NE Africa, Middle East, Pakistan, India and S & E China.
  • G. g. archibaldi Ilyashenko & Ghasabyan, 2008 – E Turkey, S Georgia, Armenia and extreme NW Iran, with occasional nesting possible in Azerbaijan#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 95–125 cm; male 5100–6100 g, female 4500–5900 g; wingspan 180–200 cm. Slate-grey body, with black primaries; dark head has white stripe starting... read more


    Calls high-pitched, penetrating and far-carrying. Contact call, given mainly in flight, a deep... read more


    Nests in wide variety of shallow wetlands, including forested swamps (especially of birch and alder... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Plant items generally more important, especially outside breeding season: roots, rhizomes, tubers, stems, shoots, leaves,... read more


    Spring breeder; most eggs laid in May. Nest a mound, c. 80 cm wide, of wetland vegetation; sited in shallow marsh or bog, often near... read more


    Major migration flyways well known. They comprise: from Scandinavia and N continental Europe... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Global population estimated to number c. 491,000–503,000 individuals. Only European and European Russian populations... read more

    Recommended citation

    Archibald, G.W., Meine, C.D., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Common Crane (Grus grus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).