Cranes Ecology and Behaviour


Many species of cranes gather in large groups during migration and on their wintering grounds

Cranes are diurnal birds that vary in their sociability by season. During the breeding season, they are territorial and usually remain on their territory all the time, whilst out of the breeding season they tend to be gregarious, forming large flocks to roost, socialise, and, in some species feed.


Species that feed predominately on vegetable matter in the non-breeding season feed in flocks. Whereas those that feed on animals will usually feed in family groups, joining flocks only during resting periods, or in preparation for travel during migration. Large aggregations of cranes are important for safety when resting and also as places for young single birds to meet others.

Calls and communication

Cranes are highly vocal and have a large vocabulary of specialized calls. The vocabulary begins soon after hatching with low, purring contact calls for maintaining contact with their parents, as well as food begging calls. Other calls used as chicks include alarm calls and “flight intention” calls, both of which are maintained into adulthood. The cranes’ duet calls are most impressive. They can be used for individual recognition .