September 17, 2019
Smallest of the Cranes
- as seen by -Cory Scott
Demoiselle cranes, Anthropoides virgo, stand at an average of 30 to 36 inches tall making them the smallest species of crane. While not found in France, Demoiselle cranes were named by Queen Marie Antoinette after being brought to France from Russia. These cranes can be found from eastern Asia to northern Africa in almost 50 countries. They spend the summer months breeding and nesting in eastern Asia and Central Europe before migrating in vast flocks to northern Africa and parts of the Middle East for the winter. The diminutive cranes are well-adapted to a variety of habitats from savannas, grasslands, and steppes, to high plateaus. Demoiselle cranes are easy to identify by the long white feathers starting above their eyes and stretching to the back of their heads.
Demoiselle cranes are currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and the population with zoos is managed through a Species Survival Plan where AZA and member institutions work cooperatively toward the long-term survival of species. WCS’s Prospect Park Zoo currently has a breeding pair of cranes in the outdoor aviary of the Discovery Trail. We hope the pair will hatch a chick in the future so that we contribute to the SSP population, keeping these beautiful birds in zoos to inspire our visitors.