Cranes are a clade (Gruidae) of large, long-legged and long-necked birds in the group Gruiformes. There are fifteen species of crane in four genera. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Cranes live on all continents except Antarctica and South America.
Most species of cranes are at the least classified as threatened, if not critically endangered, within their range. The plight of the Whooping Cranes of North America inspired some of the first US legislation to protect endangered species.
They are opportunistic feeders that change their diet according to the season and their own nutrient requirements. They eat a range of items from suitably sized small rodents, fish, amphibians, and insects, to grain, berries, and plants.
Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". While folklore often states that cranes mate for life, recent scientific research indicates that these birds do change mates over the course of their lifetimes (Wessling, 2003; Hayes 2005), which may last several decades. Cranes construct platform nests in shallow water, and typically lay two eggs at a time. Both parents help to rear the young, which remain with them until the next breeding season.
Some species and populations of cranes migrate over long distances; others do not migrate at all. Cranes are solitary during the breeding season, occurring in pairs, but during the non-breeding season they are gregarious, forming large flocks where their numbers are sufficient.
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... Further information Cranein Chinese mythology The cranes beauty and their spectacular mating dances have made them highly symbolic birdsin many cultures with records dating back to ... Cranemythology is widely spread and can be found in areas such as the Aegean, South Arabia, China, Korea, Japan and in the Native American cultures of North America ... In northern Hokkaidō, the women of the Ainu people performed a cranedance that was captured in 1908 in a photograph by Arnold Genthe ...
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