Red-crowned Crane

Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) is a cultural symbol throughout northeast Asia. It is a beautiful bird that reaches 1.5 meters in height and has white plumage with a black neck and wing feathers. An isolated non-migratory population lives on Hokkaido, Japan, while the entire continental migratory population (1,600 birds) nests only in the Amur-Heilong River basin. About 500 birds inhabit the grassy marshlands of the Zeya-Bureya and Middle Amur-Heilong plain, Ussuri River valley, Khanka Lake in the Russian part of the Amur-Heilong basin. The remaining 1,100 birds nest in the China part of the basin. The Nen River wetlands once supported the greatest number of red-crowned cranes but numbers have declined in recent decades. Scientists from DIPA recently described globally important breeding habitats in the middle reaches of the transboundary Argun River, Moergol and Huihe River valleys.

The red-crowned crane is listed in the Russian Red Book and listed as endangered by IUCN. Nesting habitats are protected in Khingansky, Khankaisky, and Bolonsky Zapovedniks and many refuges in Russia. Zhalong National Nature Reserve is the major stronghold in China for the Red-crowned Crane, and many larger wetland nature reserves of the Song-Nen and Sanjiang plains also support nesting pairs. Wintering grounds are situated in China (along the coastal zone north of the Yangtze River) and in the border demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. The main threats to the species are conversion of habitats to farmland, diversion of water from wetlands, and grass fires. During the past several years the mainland population has steadily declined.

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