International Crane Foundation


Hooded Crane

Grus monacha

HEIGHT: ~100 cm, 3 ft
WEIGHT: ~3.75 kg, 8 lbs
POPULATION: ~9,400 – 9,600
TREND: Declining
STATUS: IUCN: VU; Cites Appendix I; ESA: E; CMS I, II


Hooded Cranes nest in such remote forested wetlands in southeastern Siberia that it was not until early 1974 that the first nest was located by biologists!


Adult crowns are unfeathered, red, and covered with black hairlike bristles. The head and neck are snow white, which extends down the neck. The body plumage is otherwise slaty gray. The primaries, secondaries, tail, and tail coverts are black. Eye color is hazel yellow to orange brown, legs and toes are nearly black. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable, although males tend to be slightly larger in size.

Juvenile crown are covered with black and white feathers during the first year, and exhibit some brownish or grayish wash on their body feathers. Download FREE Hooded Crane images.


The breeding grounds of this species are in southeastern Russia and northern China. Non-breeding flocks occur in the Russia-Mongolia-China border region. More than 80% of Hooded Cranes spend the winter at the Izumi Feeding Station on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Small numbers are found at Yashiro in southern Japan, in South Korea, and at several sites along the middle Yangtze River in China.


Click to view range map.


Hooded Cranes nest and feed in isolated sphagnum bogs scattered through the taiga in southeastern Russia, and in China, in forested wetlands in mountain valleys. Non-breeding birds are found in shallow open wetlands, natural grasslands, and agricultural fields in southern Siberia and northeastern Mongolia. During migration, Hooded Cranes often associate with Eurasian and White-naped Cranes.

Mated pairs of cranes, including Hooded Cranes, engage in unison calling, which is a complex and extended series of coordinated calls. The birds stand in a specific posture, usually with their heads thrown back and beaks skyward during the display. The male always lifts up his wings over his back during the unison call while the female keeps her wings folded at her sides. Hooded Crane males initiate the display and utter one call for every two female calls. All cranes also engage in dancing, which includes various behaviors such as bowing, jumping, running, stick or grass tossing, and wing flapping. Dancing can occur at any age and is commonly associated with courtship, however, it is generally believed to be a normal part of motor development for cranes and can serve to thwart aggression, relieve tension, and strengthen the pair bond.

Hooded Cranes nest in isolated, widely scattered bogs in the taiga and in other forested wetlands. Mossy areas are preferred with widely scattered larch trees. Nests are constructed of damp moss, peat, sedge stalks and leaves, and branches of larch and birch. Females usually lay two eggs and incubation (by both sexes) lasts 27-30 days. The male takes the primary role in defending the nest against possible danger. Chicks fledge (first flight) at approximately 75 days.


All cranes are omnivorous. Hooded Cranes diet includes aquatic plants, berries, insects, frogs, salamanders, roots, rhizomes, seeds, grass, and small animals. At artificial feeding stations in Korea and Japan, Hooded Cranes eat rice, wheat, and other cereal grains


Rapid development of the Hooded Crane’s key wintering grounds in Japan, Korea, and China and the high risk of disease outbreak in the concentrated flocks at the winter feeding stations pose the most serious threats to the Hooded Crane. Drainage of wetlands and intensified logging pressures in Russia’s taiga forests; reclamation of wintering grounds in China for agriculture and alterations in the hydrology of these areas caused by large dam construction (for example the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River) are additional concerns.

ICF in Action

Since the early 1950s, the Government of Japan has allocated funds to feed cranes in winter. From several hundred cranes after the Second World War, the numbers of Hooded Cranes at the feeding station near the town of Izumi in southern Japan, has increased from several hundred to more than 8,000. Conservationists worldwide are concerned that an outbreak of disease at Izumi could destroy the majority of the world’s Hooded Cranes estimated to number about 10,000. ICF has repeatedly communicated our concerns to Japanese colleagues and to the officials in Tokyo.

In South Korea a formerly unknown wintering population of about 100 Hooded Cranes was discovered in 1996 on Sunshon Bay, an estuary in the far south peninsula. ICF volunteer, Fran Kaliher, spent much of the winter of 2002 at the site and in concert with Korean colleagues studied the ecology and habitat needs of these cranes. At that time, the population had increased to 130 cranes, including at least 25 immature birds. This area has recently been protected as a special nature reserve.

ICF has also been involved with the protection of wintering sites for Hooded Cranes in China.

Recently, with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, ICF is partnering with educators and nature reserve staff at the Zhalong Nature Reserve and Changlindao Nature Reserve in northeastern China to foster increased cooperation and understanding of the environmental issues affecting important breeding and migration corridors for Hooded, Red-crowned and White-naped cranes.

Species accounts derived from:

Johnsgard PA. 1983. Cranes of the world. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Meine CD, Archibald GW. 1996. The cranes: status survey and conservation action plan. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.