Body length: 95-120 cm
Wingspan: 180-220 cm
Body mass: 4.5-6 kg (male larger than female)
Adults: ash-grey in colour, with a black throat and patch beyond bill, though crown red, while area behind eye as far as nape features broad white stripe.
Juveniles: similar grey colour, though with brown head and neck.
Present over most of Poland except south. Population rising steadily, however, and more and more inclined to breed close to settlement. Spectacular courtship ”dance” followed by nestbuilding in inaccessible wet woodland, marsh or alder carr. Main diet is plant material, though supplemented by insects, molluscs and rodents. Red crown-patch not gender-dependent, but more visible in aggressive individuals.
V-formations of cranes calling as they cross the skies are a sign of spring in many parts of the world. Equally, late summer and early autumn see birds flocking together noisily, prior to return to wintering grounds in France, the Iberian Peninsula or Africa.
Descriptions drawing on content of Ptaki Polski (“Birds of Poland”) - a book authored by Andrzej G. Kruszewicz, and published by MULTICO Oficyna Wydawnicza Sp. z o.o.