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Sarus Crane : the tallest flying bird

Updated: Aug 1, 2022



A pair of Sarus Crane


Sarus crane (juvenile)

Family of Sarus crane

Sarus Crane

On a pleasant sunny day we found a big size bird hovering over paddy field on outskirts of Kanpur city. The beautiful flight of a giant bird drew our attention and we followed them with our camera. We found that it was a group of ‘Sarus Cranes’, the tallest flying bird of the world. It was a great opportunity to closely watch their movement and activities in natural habitat.

· Sarus cranes are so much imbibed with Indian culture that the first sholka (verse) of the Valmiki Ramayan mention about them.

· The most striking feature of these birds are their family bonding which they maintain throughout life. They take sincere care of their offspring while feeding in and around paddy fields or wetlands. The sense of family attachment can be visualized in the snaps and video. Due to this unique bonding , Sarus cranes are considered as ‘symbol of love’ and good fortune. That is why the handicrafts made of brass displaying pair of Sarus cranes are a popular gift item.

· Its scientific name is ‘Grus antigone’ and belongs to ‘Gruidae’ family.

Characteristic features of “Sarus cranes”

· It is a magnificent bird having overall body in grey colour and distinguished red colour on head and upper neck.

Although the Siberian cranes being a migratory / guest bird ( a winter visitor) which have white body and red bill , are given more importance, Sarus cranes (a native bird) are comparatively more beautiful due to red colour on head & neck region.

· Growth upto 1.80 m (6 feet) makes them the tallest flying bird. Besides they have up to 2.50 m wide wing span while in flight.

· They are normally found in pair or small group of 3 or 4. Their natural habitats are paddy fields, wetlands, marshy land, irrigation canal sides etc.

· They mainly feed on insects, plant roots, tubers, paddy etc.

· They make loud trumpeting sound and perform beautiful dance movement.

· Mainly distributed in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan & Gujarat in India. Due to its presence in large number Sarus crane has been adopted as ‘State bird’ of Uttar Pradesh.

· Number of Sarus cranes in India is decreasing and presently it is estimated as 10,000 to 15,000. The main reasons for decrease in number are wide spread construction activities around cities destroying their natural habitat, use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in cultivation on which they depend for food, electric distribution lines in which they get entangled etc.



· As per IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural resources) Sarus cranes are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ , (VU), on the Red list of threatened species. They need care and protection for their survival and growth being a vital part of eco-system.

We citizen as well as the Government should make all effort to safeguard these magnificent birds and their natural habitat for the sake of environment and adopt sustainable development process.

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