Image courtesy of ARKive.org media library

ARKive photo - Japanese cranes in courtship display

Image courtesy of ARKive photo collection

Species: Japanese crane (Grus japonensis)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The Japanese crane is considered sacred and seen as a symbol of fidelity, good luck, love and long life in the Orient.

A tall, graceful bird, the Japanese crane is known for its mesmerising synchronised courtship dance. Adults usually pair for life and use these displays in order to reinforce bonds. The pair usually produces two eggs, and the chicks are able to leave the nest only a few days after hatching to follow their parents on foraging trips. Only one chick is likely to be reared successfully by each pair. The Japanese crane forages using a ‘walk and peck’ technique, and they have a broad diet that includes insects, aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, rodents, fish and plants.

The stunning plumage of the Japanese crane was also its downfall, with hunting for its feathers nearly causing the extinction of this species at the beginning of the 20th century. Loss of its wetland habitat has caused further declines in the Japanese crane population. It is now illegal to hunt Japanese cranes and protected areas have been established in order to safeguard the future of this magnificent bird.

Find out more on the Japanese crane with BirdLife International.

View images and videos of the Japanese crane on ARKive.

Try our endangered species activities in ARKive’s education section.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author