The Sarus crane (Grus antigone) is the world’s tallest flying bird, standing at an impressive height of up to 6ft. These distinctive birds have predominantly grey plumage with bright a red head and neck and long pink legs. Juveniles have yellow heads and neck and slightly darker grey plumage. Sarus cranes are opportunistic omnivores, and eat a wide variety of food, such as aquatic plants, seeds, insects, herptiles and fish.
Sarus cranes are monogamous in nature and pairs typically mate for life. During courtship the cranes perform complex dances and presentation of gifts accompanied by characteristic loud trumpeting sounds. The primary breeding season is monsoon when there is an abundance of water vegetation for cover and food. During the breeding season a bulky nest is constructed from wetland vegetation and raised above the water, offering protection from many land predators. Sarus cranes are well known for their protective nature and can be very aggressive towards intruders.
The Sarus crane are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN red list and are threatened primarily by habitat loss due to drainage of essential wetland habitats for farming practices. Other issues include increased use of harmful pesticides, collisions with electrical wires and illegal hunting and egg collecting.
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