This crane is listed as Vulnerable because it is thought to be experiencing a rapid and on-going population decline, largely as a result of the loss of wetlands to agriculture and economic development.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Distribution and populationGrus vipio
125 cm. Large grey crane. Slate-grey body with white throat and vertical white stripe from crown down back of neck. Extensive patch of red on face. Juvenile has brown head and pale throat. Similar spp. Common Crane G. grus has black nape, face and foreneck. Hooded Crane G. monacha has fully white neck and white face below the eye. Voice High-pitched, penetrating calls.
breeds in Dauria on the border of Russia
, the Amur and Ussuri basins on the Sino-Russian border and the Songnen and Sanjiang plains, China. It migrates along the Songnen plain and Gulf of Bohai to its wintering grounds in the Yangtze basin, mainly at Poyang Hu (c.1,000-1,500 individuals), along the Korean peninsula to the Demilitarised Zone in North Korea/South Korea, mainly Cholwon (c.1,900 individuals), and to southern Kyushu in Japan. The population is estimated at c.6,500 individuals and is probably declining.Population justification
The total population is estimated at 5,500-6,500 individuals, based on estimates of 1,000-1,500 individuals wintering in China , and a 2009 count of 1,920 in Korea (Lee Ki-sup in litt.
2012) and a maximum count of 3,142 in 2009 at Izumi, Japan (S. Chan in litt.
2012). Double counting is possible between the Korean sites and Izumi due to movement of birds during the wintering period.Trend justification
Although accurate data on population trends are lacking, numbers are thought likely to be in rapid decline owing to habitat loss in both the breeding and wintering grounds, as well as other confounding factors such as hunting, disturbance, nest predation and pollution.Ecology
It breeds in the wetlands of steppe and forest-steppe zones, in grassy marshes, wet sedge-meadows and reedbeds in broad river valleys, lake depressions and boggy upland wetlands, preferring areas where its nest can be concealed and there is little grazing pressure (Bradter et al.
2007). Its preferred habitats are less aquatic than for the Red-crowned Crane found over much of the same breeding range. In winter, it frequents freshwater lakes, farmland and occasionally coastal flats. Threats
The loss of wetlands to agricultural expansion and growing human demand for water, on both breeding and wintering grounds, is the main threat. Between 2000 and 2009, wetland loss in the western (Daurian) part of the range has been greatly exacerbated by prolonged drought conditions. This drought is part of a climatic cycle, and is predicted to persist until 2015 (O. Gorosko in litt
. 2007). Breeding birds are also threatened by steppe fires, whilst livestock grazing may cause disturbance and reduce the availability of suitable nesting habitat (Bradter et al
. 2005). In its wintering grounds, the main threats are from development and increasing human disturbance of wetlands in the Yangtze basin, the effects of the Three Gorges Dam on wetlands in the Yangtze basin, the proposed construction of a dam at the outlet to Poyang Lake, and the potential development of wetlands in the Demilitarised Zone. In China, wintering flocks occur outside of existing reserves, and are consequently at risk from hunting, direct disturbance, pollution from pesticide use and further loss of habitat due to agricultural expansion (Higuchi et al
. 2004). At Cholwon, Korea, a switch from spring to autumn ploughing of rice paddies resulted in reduced foraging rates, potentially affecting overwinter survival (Don Lee et al.
2007). Mortality due to agricultural chemicals has been reported and is probably under-estimated. In Japan, the high proportion of individuals wintering at a single site at Izumi may render the population at greater risk from stochastic events or disease. Izumi is the main poultry region in Japan, and a disease outbreak among cranes could lead to over-reaction and extreme control measures due to economic risks to poultry farmers. The presence of livestock is likely to be detrimental because of disturbance, although it is possible that a limited amount of grazing could be important for maintaining habitat (Bradter et al.
2007).Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. CMS Appendix II. It is legally protected in all range states. Protected areas have been established for its conservation, of which the most important are Khingansky, Muraviovka, Daursky and Lake Khanka (Russia), Daguur (Mongolia), Zhalong, Xingkai Hu, Xianghai, Keerqin, Poyang Lake, Dongting Lake and Shengjin Hu (China), Kumya and Mundok (North Korea), and Izumi-Takaono (Japan). Artificial feeding has resulted in an increase in the population wintering in Japan.Conservation Actions Proposed
Establish transboundary protected areas at the Tumen estuary between Russia, China and North Korea and the Argun River between Russia and China. Secure the conservation status of Cholwon and the Han River estuary in the Demilitarised Zone. Increase the number of suitable wintering sites in Japan. Enforce conservation measures to minimise threats from the Three Gorges Dam and thousands of other dams to wetlands along the Yangtze and at Poyang. Extend or establish protected areas for breeding and wintering grounds as well as migratory stopovers, including Kumya, Lake Khanka-Xinghai, Poyang Lake, Sanjiang Plain, Sonbon and Bohai Bay. Control spring fires in the breeding grounds. Prevent poisoning from pesticides and poaching. Establish local crane conservation groups at small wintering and breeding sites. Establish a database combining the locations of crane records with details of existing reserve boundaries in order to identify priority sites. Ensure conservation measures are targeted to within 3 km of roosting sites, as a recent study has shown that to be the maximum distance travelled by foraging individuals (Bradter et al
. 2007). Develop emergency response plans in case of avian disease outbreak at Izumi.
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Bradter, U.; Gombobaatar, S.; Uuganbayar, C.; Grazia, T. E.; Exo, K.-M. 2007. Time budgets and habitat use of White-naped Cranes Grus vipio in the Ulz river valley, north-eastern Mongolia during the breeding season. Bird Conservation International 17(3): 259-271.
Bradter, U.; Gombobaatar, S.; Uuganbayar, C.; Grazia, T.E.; Exo, K.-M. 2005. Reproductive performance and nest-site selection of White-naped Cranes Grus vipio in the Ulz river valley, north-eastern Mongolia. Bird Conservation International 15: 313-326.
Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.
Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Higuchi, H.; Pierre, J. P.; Krever, V.; Andronov, V.; Fujita, G.; Ozaki, K.; Goroshko, O.; Ueta, M.; Smirensky, S.; Mita, N. 2004. Using a remote technology in conservation: satellite tracking White-naped Cranes in Russia and Asia. Conservation Biology 18: 136-147.
Lee, S.D., Jablonski, P.D. and Higuchi, H. 2007. Effect of heterospecifics on foraging of endangered red-crowned and white-naped cranes in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Ecological Research 22(4): 635-640.
Li Zuo Wei,. D.; Mundkur, T. 2004. Numbers and distribution of waterbirds and wetlands in the Asia-Pacific region. Results of the Asian waterbird census: 1997-2001. Wetlands International, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Wei, D. L. Z.; Bloem, A.; Delany, S.; Martakis, G.; Quintero, J. O. 2009. Status of waterbirds in Asia: results of the Asian Waterbird Census: 1987-2007. Wetlands International, Kuala Lumpur.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
International Crane Foundation Species Field Guide
Status, Survey and Conservation Action Plan
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Khwaja, N., Taylor, J., Allinson, T
Goroshko, O., Harris, J.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Grus vipio. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 16/03/2014.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 16/03/2014.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
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Additional resources for this species