Wild Birds

Demoiselle Cranes

The Demoiselle Crane, Anthropoides virgo is a species of crane.


The Demoiselle is 85-100 cm long with a 155-180 cm wingspan. It is therefore slightly smaller than the Common Crane, with similar plumage. However, it has a long white neck stripe and the black on the foreneck extends down over the chest in a plume.

Distribution / Habitat:

It breeds in central Asia, with a few found in Cyprus and eastern Turkey, even as far as western and Northern Pakistan, and migrates to Africa in winter.

Damp marshes, steppe habitats, and meadows are all other areas in which the Demoiselle Crane could be spotted in. The range in height goes from sea level to over 10,000 meters.

Demoiselle cranes have to take one of the toughest migrations in the world. In late August through September, they gather in flocks of up to 400 individuals and prepare for their flight to their winter range. During their migratory flight south, demoiselles fly like all cranes, with their head and neck straight forward and their feet and legs straight behind, reaching altitudes of 16,000-26,000 feet (4,875-7,925 m). Along their arduous journey, they have to cross the Himalayan mountains to get to their overwintering grounds in India, many die from fatigue, hunger, and predation from birds such as eagles.

At their wintering grounds, demoiselles have been observed flocking with Eurasian cranes, their combined totals reaching up to 20,000 individuals. Demoiselles maintain separate social groups within the larger flock.

In March and April, demoiselle cranes begin their long spring journey back to their northern nesting grounds.

Breeding / Nesting:

Like other cranes, it has a dancing display, more balletic than the Common Crane, with less leaping.

During the breeding season, marshy areas are preferred living spaces, while the cranes are more commonly found in dry grasslands throughout the winter.

The birds usually nest no more than 500 m away from a main source of water.

Demoiselle Crane - Distribution Map

Call / Song:

It has a loud trumpeting call, higher-pitched than the Common Crane.


The Demoiselle Crane is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

It is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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