125 Common (aka Eurasian) Crane
(Grus grus)


96-119cm. Huge, with very long legs and long, narrow neck. Plumage mainly pale bluish-grey, but most breeding birds acquire rusty-brown back from staining with (ferruginous and muddy) bog water during incubation. Head and upper neck black and white; bare skin of hindcrown red (size of red varying). Elongated tertials extremely bulky and disorderly, giving impression of almost Ostrich-like, bushy ‘tail’. Flight-feathers grey-black, contrastingly darker than coverts and body. Sexes similar, but male on average slightly larger when pair seen together.


In Hungary on passage the Common Crane is regular in spring (between February and May) and locally abundant in autumn (September-November), primarily east of and along the River Tisza, only sporadically in Transdanubia. The Hortobágy has become one of the most important stop-over sites of the European population in autumn and also holds some oversumming and occasionally a few wintering birds.

Can be found in the following IBAs

07 Bihar Plain (qualifying bird for IBA)
09 Borsodi-Mezőség (qualifying bird for IBA)
12 Csanád Pusztas (qualifying bird for IBA)
13 Cserebökény Pusztas of Szentes
15 Ecseg Pusztas of Dévaványa (qualifying bird for IBA)
26 Heves Plain (qualifying bird for IBA)
27 Hortobágy and Lake Tisza (qualifying bird for IBA)
32 Alkaline Pusztas of Upper Kiskunság (qualifying bird for IBA)
33 Kis-Sárrét (Biharugra)
34 Kolon Lake
37 Moson Plain (qualifying bird for IBA)
44 Alkaline Lakes of Kiskunság (qualifying bird for IBA)

125 Common (aka Eurasian) Crane pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008