Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Crane, a book name for any of the Gruidae, a family of wading birds allied to the Storks and Herons, but having the hind toe placed higher than those in front. Grus, with twelve species, absent only from the Neotropical region, is the type-genus. The straight, strong bill is longer than the head; nostrils longitudinal in a furrow; windpipe convoluted, except in the Asiatic Crane ( G. leucogeranus). Many species are migratory; and this habit was known to classic writers, and is noticed by Jeremiah (viii. 7). All are noted for their grotesque antics or "dances" when excited. The Common Crane (G. cinerea) breeds in the northern parts of the Eastern hemisphere, migrating southwards in close wedge-like bodies in winter. It was formerly a native of English fen-lands, but is now a rare visitor. Its height, when erect, is about four feet; forehead, top of head, and neck, dark slaty ash; a broad line of greyish white extends down each side of the neck; the general body plumage is soft ash-grey; the primaries black; tertiaries, which can be raised or depressed, tipped with bluish black. These plumes were formerly in much request for ladies' head-dresses. Cranes feed on worms, insects, small reptiles, seeds, roots, etc.; and their flesh is valued for the table.