Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) Fact Sheet: Summary

Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis)

Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) Fact Sheet

Red-crowned Crane

Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Gruiformes

Family: Gruidae

Subfamily: Gruinae

Genus: Grus

Species: Grus japonensis - Red-crowned Crane

Body Weight
7-10 kg (15-22 lb)

158 cm (5 ft)

Wing Length
220-250 cm (7-8 ft)

Adults have a large red patch on head. White body with white primary and black secondary/tertiary feathers. Black on neck.
Juveniles with white, cinnamon brown, gray.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Japan, Korea, China, southeast Russia

Reed, sedge, and cat-tail marshes.
Reed swamps in China.
Crop or pasture land, dykes.

IUCN Status
Endangered (2016 assessment)

CITES Status
Appendix I

Population in Wild
Global population about 2800-3300 individuals; only about 1830 mature individuals.

Walk slowly, but can run quickly (up to 40 km/hr or 25 mph). Fly in straight lines or "V" formations.

Activity Cycle
Spend much of the day feeding. Roost at night.

Social Groups
Live and breed in flocks.

Omnivorous: insects, aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians, rodents; reeds, grasses, and other plants.

Of adults: birds of prey, escaped mink
Of eggs and juveniles: Dogs, foxes, raccoon dogs, badgers, martens may prey on young. Crows and ravens prey on eggs and hatchlings.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
3-4 years

Clutch Size
Two eggs

Incubation Period
29-34 days

Hatching Weight
0.15 kg (5 oz)

Age at Fledging
About 95 days

Typical Life Expectancy
Wild populations: not reported
Managed care: median life expectancy of 29 years


Feature Facts

  • Second rarest crane, after whooping crane
  • Only 33 individuals remained in Japan after WWII; today about 1830 mature individuals (Endangered)
  • Dance behavior establishes and maintains pair bonds
  • Spend up to three-quarters of daylight hours feeding
  • Distinctive high- and low-pitched vocalizations
  • Maintain "personal space" among each other in their marsh homes
  • Require dead vegetation for breeding
  • Flight feathers fall out simultaneously every 2 years; cranes are temporarily flightless
  • Breed readily in managed care; San Diego Zoo has bred since 1985
  • Red-crowned cranes are associated with nobility and immortality in China

About This Fact Sheet

© 2011-2017 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor Conservation update 2017.


How to cite: Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) Fact Sheet. c2011-2017. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. redcrownedcrane
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)


Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

SDZWA Library Links