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Demoiselle Crane

Scientific Name: Grus virgo


Demoiselle cranes inhabit desert-like grasslands, but they are never far from water. They frequent river valleys, hilly steppes, meadows, marshes, shallow lakes and swamps. These areas are ideal for foraging plant material and seeds–the main items on their menu. They are considered omnivorous and will also consume small invertebrates and larger insects, such as beetles or worms.

Demoiselle relationships are described as serial monogamy; pairs stay together for many years if successful in rearing young, but may “divorce” and re-pair if unsuccessful. Like many other crane species, Demoiselles will “dance” with their mate to strengthen pair bonds. The ballet-like display includes leaping, jumping, bowing or short flights. Pairs remain segregated from others during breeding season but form flocks of up to 400 individuals when autumn calls for migration.


Forty-seven countries include the six main populations of the Demoiselle cranes. These birds spread out from the Black Sea to Eastern Asia during their breeding season. Some birds spend their winter in Africa, while others migrate via the impressive trek above the Himalayan mountains to reach their wintering ground in India.

Status in the Wild

Demoiselle cranes are listed as Least Concern due to their vast habitat range, an apparent increasing population trend and large population size. In fact, they are the second most numerous species of cranes. However, these birds do face many dangers, which over time could affect their population. Habitat loss is the main threat to Demoiselles. They are hunted for food and sport and are taken as pets in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Suspected of causing damage to crops, they are also frequently shot.