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Animal Detail ViewՄանրամասն` նրանց մասին

28.02.2012

Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo)


Scientific classification

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Gruiformes

Family: Gruidae

Genus: Anthropoides

Binomial name:  Anthropoides virgo

 

Description

Generally, cranes are large birds, ranging from a length of 90 cm to 150 cm. Anthropoides virgo is known to be the smallest crane, with an average adult length of 90 cm. Cranes are recognized for their long necks and legs, their streamlined bodies, and long rounded wings. Most cranes have bare, red skin patches on their heads, however, demoiselles have a completely feathered head with a white line that extends from the corner of their red eye, to the back of their head. During display, they can elongate these feathers on the sides of their head. With feathery gray areas ranging from the crown to the nape, the bird has a dark underside, with black legs and toes. The length and positioning of the trachea can also distinguish a demoiselle crane from other cranes; Demoiselles have a trachea that makes a slight indentation on the sternum. After hatching, demoiselle chicks are silver gray, and as they develop into a juvenile demoiselle, they become predominately grey at the time of fledging. This color assists in camouflaging the bird. Once developing into an adult, they appear as previously described above. An important fact about A. virgo is that the male and female are monomorphic - identical in their external features; however, the males are usually larger.

Range and Habits

There are six main locations of populations of Anthropoides virgo. In central Asia, there is a stable and increasing population of 100,000 individuals. Kalmykia is the third eastern population, which consists of 30 to 35,000 individuals, and this count is presently stable. Northern Africa holds a declining population of fifty individuals on the Atlas Plateau. Demoiselle cranes are a cosmopolitan species found within the wide range of the Ethiopian, Palearctic, and Oriental regions. As demoiselles are migratory birds, their winter habitats include those of Northeastern Africa, Pakistan, and India.

Found primarily in open spaces with a wide range of visibility, A. virgo lives in upland areas, unlike most other cranes which can be found in wetland habitat. Space and solitude are important for the maintenance of demoiselle cranes, therefore their habitats vary from semi-arid savannas, grasslands, and steppes, to high plateaus. They can also inhabit semi-deserts to true deserts as long as water is available within 200 to 500 meters. Ranging in habitat from sea level to 3,000 meters, they are usually found no farther than a few hundred meters away from rivers, for they need the source of water to survive.

Behavior

Anthropoides virgo is both social and solitary in behavior. Besides the fundamental activities of sleeping, walking, eating etc., these birds are solitary when performing the activities of preening, bathing shaking, stretching, scratching, ruffling, and feather painting. However, in response to other cranes and other external stimuli, demoiselles are very social. Forming bonds and mating with one other individual for life, and forming flocks for migration and socialization are key factors of their social behavior. Demoiselles are migratory birds, and will fly at high altitudes, and travel long distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. Between August and September, A. virgo will collect into flocks of up to 400 individuals and will migrate to their winter ranges.

Diet

Foraging during the morning and the early afternoon, A. virgo are generalists and opportunists with respect to their diet and foraging behavior. With more efficient shorter bills and toes for feeding in dry uplands, croplands, and pastures, these birds hunt with their heads lowered to peck at the ground. Precisely, their diet includes: seeds, leaves, acorns, nuts, berries, fruits, waste grains, small mammals, birds, insects, worms, snails, grasshoppers, beetles, snakes, lizards, and rodents.

Reproduction

The mating system of A. virgo is monogamous. A male and a female will remain a pair for their entire lives. However, this remains true only if reproduction is successful, and reproduction is usually not successful until the age of four to eight years. The breeding season of demoiselle cranes coincides with the local rainy season. The cycle of reproduction has many stages. First, there is a three to five month nesting period, whereas the non-breeding period is much longer. Migrating between breeding grounds and wintering grounds, when in the breeding season, these birds nest in grasslands. Usually the nest is on the bare ground consisting of a few twigs and pebbles. As discussed above, incubation lasts for a duration of twenty-seven to twenty-nine days, the fledging periods lasts from fifty-five to sixty days, and it is well up to eight to ten months before the juvenile crane is independent from his/her parents. On average, the clutch size of a demoiselle crane consists of two eggs that are yellow-green in color with spots of lavender. Both sexes assist with the incubation of the eggs over a period of twenty-nine days, however females perform the major part of the task. Until the next breeding season, for eight to ten months immature cranes remain with their parents.

Conservation Status

The species listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Least Concern.

 



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