The tall, striking white-naped crane breeds on the border of Russia, Mongolia and China in the marshes, wet meadows and reedbeds of the steppes. As in other cranes, bonds between males and females are reinforced with elaborate, coordinated dancing and calling displays.
In winter, the birds migrate to feeding grounds in the Yangtse basin, Japan and Korea where they congregate in flocks as they forage for insects, seeds, roots, vegetation and small animals. Excellent diggers, they excavate the tubers of sedges and other plants.
Agriculture is threatening the continuing existence of the wetlands, while development and human disturbance affect the cranes in their wintering grounds. Only about 6000 remain in the wild, and the population is probably declining.
However, action is being taken to stem the loss of these wonderful birds. They are legally protected throughout their range, and a feeding programme has led to an increase in the population wintering in Japan. A programme to raise eggs from U.S.A. zoos to bolster the breeding population in Russia is also underway.
Establishing more protected areas and working with local communities, along with measures to control the fires that threaten its breeding sites on the steppes and the prevention of hunting and poisoning, will also help.
Durrell’s white-naped cranes have bred regularly in Jersey since the 1980s and now inhabit the renovated valley area, where they live alongside several species of waterfowl.
Other Vulnerable Animals