Last updates


Legal issues

The White-naped Crane feeds on plant matter such as seeds, roots and tubers of aquatic plants. It also takes insects and small vertebrates such as amphibians and rodents.
Outside the breeding season, it takes more grain, seeds and tubers. Feeding-stations in Japan provide them rice and cereal grains.

The White-naped Crane is a VULNERABLE species.
The cranes are threatened by habitat loss with drainage of wetland for agriculture expansion.
The breeding grounds in Mongolia are threatened by over-grazing and human disturbances. Steppe fires also destroy nesting sites and can decimate a colony.
Human developments on the breeding grounds are the main threat for these birds.

Several protected areas have been established in Russia, Mongolia, China, N Korea and Japan, and the feeding-stations in Japan have resulted in an increase of the wintering populations of this country.

Fr: Grue à cou blanc
All : Weißnackenkranich
Esp: Grulla Cuelliblanca
Ital: Gru dal collobianco del Giappone
Nd: Witnekkraanvogel
Sd: Glasögontrana
Jap: マナヅル ou manaduru

Photographer :

Aurélien Audevard

Texte de Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Volume 3 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN : 8487334202

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

ARKive (Christopher Parsons)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

International Crane Foundation


Home page

Page Family Gruidae

Summary cards


White-naped Crane
Antigone vipio

Gruiforme Order – Gruidae Family

Length: 125-130 cm
Wingspan: 200-210 cm
Weight: 4750-6500 g

The White-naped Crane, as the other cranes’ species, performs beautiful courtship displays accompanied with elaborated calls.

Adult has slate-grey body. On the wings, the flight feathers and the primary coverts are blackish. Lesser and median wing coverts are greyish-white, as the tail feathers.
We can see a conspicuous vertical white stripe starting from the crown and extending down back on neck. Chin and throat are white, the latter tapers into a point on the foreneck. 

On the head, the bare skin of the face is bright red and circles each eye. Ear-coverts are grey. The base of the bill is black, extending below the red skin into a fine black line.

The long, straight bill is pale yellowish to horn-coloured. Eyes are red-orange. Long legs and feet are pinkish.
Both sexes are similar, but male is slightly larger than female.

The juvenile has brown head and pale brownish throat.

Here is an immature.

The White-naped Crane gives high-pitched, penetrating calls.
During the courtship displays, both mates engage in unison calls, a complex series of coordinated calls.

The White-naped Crane frequents several types of wetland habitats, and breeds in open wetlands along large river valleys, along lake edges, in grassy marshes and on islands in the middle of the steppe lakes where there are reedbeds.
They feed in croplands close to the breeding areas.

During the migration and winter, they frequent fallow fields and wetlands such as brackish marshes, ricefields and mudflats in estuaries. 

The White-naped Crane breeds in NE Mongolia, NE China and extreme SE Russia, and also in the Amur and Ussuri river basins.
The species winters in Korea, S Japan and CE China, in the Yangtze basin. 

The White-naped Crane feeds on seeds, roots and tubers of several aquatic plants. They also take insects and amphibians. Outside the breeding season, this species consumes waste grain, seeds and tubers. Rice and other cereal grains are given at feeding stations in Izumi, Japan.
The crane digs into the soil with its long bill, to reach roots and tubers. It also hunts some animal preys such as rodents, and feeds on grain.
The bird is fairly territorial when feeding and digging.

They arrive at breeding grounds in April, and the mates locate each other by long series of coordinated calls.
The display is initiated by the female and then, both adults extend the neck with head and bill upwards. Usually, the male gives one call and the female two.
They perform “dances” with wing-flapping, tossing plant items in the air, running and bowing, as other cranes’ species do.

They return to the nesting sites when the pair-bonds are re-established, and they build the nest in open wetland.

The White-naped Cranes are migratory. The eastern populations migrate through Korean Peninsula, and winter in the Demilitarized Zone between N and S Korea.
Several hundreds of birds continue southwards to S Japan, and join a large wintering population of Hooded Crane (Grus monacha).
The western populations migrate through C and E China to the wintering areas of Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces.  

The White-naped Crane starts to fly by running on the ground, and takes off into the wind. It quickly gains speed, and lifts into the air by pushing with the wings.
It flies with stretched neck forwards, and the legs trailing behind the body.
Before to land, it approaches the ground with spread wings and tail, and alights in standing stance.
The cranes use thermal currents when possible. During migration, they fly in V formation.

The White-naped Crane breeds in spring, with the laying in April-May.
The nest is on the ground in open wetland. It is a mound of vegetation such as dried sedges and grass.

The female lays two eggs at two or three days apart. Incubation lasts one month, shared by both adults. The nest is strongly defended, as the surroundings of the nesting site.
The chicks are yellowish-brown with darker spots. They are fed by both parents, and fledge about 70-75 days after hatching.
They are sexually mature at two-three years.