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Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Grus virgo and G. paradisea (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993; AERC TAC 2003) have been transferred to the genus Anthropoides, a treatment adopted by Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), Cramp and Simm

Anthropoides virgo Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), Anthropoides virgo Collar and Andrew (1988), Anthropoides virgo Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994), Grus virgo (Linnaeus, 1758)

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.230,000-280,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while the population in China has been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations are decreasing, stable or have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It migrates on a narrow front via specific routes (Johnsgard 1983), and may travel vast distances without alighting to rest or feed (Urban et al. 1986). The Autumn migration begins in late summer (Meine and Archibald 1996) (August-September), with the species returning in flocks from its wintering areas to breed in March and April (sometimes as late as early-June in the north) (Johnsgard 1983, del Hoyo et al. 1996). On arrival in the breeding grounds the species remains gregarious for a few weeks, before becoming more territorial and eventually nesting in solitary pairs (although the species may still forage in small groups of c.7 individuals during the breeding season) (Johnsgard 1983). After breeding (from mid-August) (Snow and Perrins 1998) migratory flocks as large as 400 individuals begin to form (Johnsgard 1983), and on arrival in its wintering grounds the species often aggregates into huge flocks of up to several thousands or tens-of-thousands (Johnsgard 1983, Urban et al. 1986). Habitat In both its breeding and wintering ranges this species shows a preference for grassland habitats in close proximity to streams, shallow lakes and other wetlands, also frequenting desert areas where water is available (Johnsgard 1983, Ellis et al. 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Meine and Archibald 1996). Breeding In its breeding range the species occurs from sea-level up to 3000 m (Johnsgard 1983, Ellis et al. 1996), inhabiting grassy steppes of feather grass Stipa and fescue Festuca, and dry areas dominated by wormwood Artemisia (Johnsgard 1983), the essential habitat requirement being access to water (e.g. rivers, streams or wells) for drinking (Johnsgard 1983). It can be found on hilly steppes along wide river valleys (Johnsgard 1983), shrubby steppes and semi-desert (Johnsgard 1983), forest edge habitats (e.g. meadows) (Johnsgard 1983), and occasionally unvegetated alkaline flats, or large expanses of rock or gravel (Johnsgard 1983). It will often forage in damp marshes and swamps (Johnsgard 1983), and is regularly found in cultivated areas (Johnsgard 1983). Non-breeding In Africa the species inhabits dry Acacia savanna, grassland, grassy river margins (Johnsgard 1983, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and semi-desert (where water is available) (Johnsgard 1983), but in India a wider range of habitat types are used, including marshes, freshwater lakes, rivers (Urban et al. 1986), cultivated fields and rice stubble (Johnsgard 1983, del Hoyo et al. 1996), sandy riverbeds, the flat and open margins of seasonal pans and farm ponds (Johnsgard 1983), and hot desert (if water is readily available) (Johnsgard 1983, Ellis et al. 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Meine and Archibald 1996). It often roosts in shallow water or on sandbars and mudflats surrounded by water (Johnsgard 1983, Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet The diet of this species consists mainly of plant material (Snow and Perrins 1998) (such as grass seeds) (Johnsgard 1983, Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), although lizards and small invertebrates such as large insects (especially beetles) and worms (Johnsgard 1983, Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) are also taken during the summer (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species will forage in cultivated fields (Johnsgard 1983), feeding on ripening cereal crops in its breeding grounds (Johnsgard 1983), peanuts, beans and other crops on migration (Meine and Archibald 1996), and wheat, chickpeas, alfalfa (Johnsgard 1983) and lucerne (Snow and Perrins 1998) in India (Johnsgard 1983, Snow and Perrins 1998). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape (Urban et al. 1986, Snow and Perrins 1998) (although often no attempt is made to find or construct a cavity) (Johnsgard 1983)on dry ground, lined or surrounded by pebbles and plant materials (eggs may be laid directly onto the ground) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The nest may be placed on gravel (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in areas partially or entirely free of vegetation (Johnsgard 1983), or in open patches of grass and cultivation, usually less than 1-2 km away from a source of water (Johnsgard 1983, Urban et al. 1986). Nests are rarely positioned closer than 200-300 m apart (Johnsgard 1983).

Habitat loss and degradation from agriculture (e.g. agricultural conversion of steppe grassland (Ellis et al. 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996), intensification of agricultural methods and changes in agricultural practices such as increased spring ploughing) (Meine and Archibald 1996) is the primary threat to this species throughout its range. Other threats include disturbance due to rising human populations (Ellis et al. 1996), intensive use of pesticides (Ellis et al. 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Meine and Archibald 1996), hunting for sport (along the migration route in Afghanistan and Pakistan) (Meine and Archibald 1996), and shooting and intentional poisoning in some areas where crop damage occurs (Ellis et al. 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Meine and Archibald 1996). Many migratory habitats have also been lost through the building of dams and the drainage of wetlands (Meine and Archibald 1996), and the breeding population in Morocco is threatened by over-grazing and mining (Meine and Archibald 1996).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Ellis, D. H.; Gee, G. F.; Mirande, C. M. 1996. Cranes: their biology, husbandary, and conservation. Gazelle Books, Lancaster, U.K.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1983. Cranes of the world. Croom Helm, London.

Meine, C. D.; Archibald, G. W. 1996. The cranes - status survey and conservation action plan. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, U.K.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

International Crane Foundation Species Field Guide

Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan

Status, Survey and Conservation Action Plan

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Anthropoides virgo. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Gruidae (Cranes)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,790,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment