|South Asian subspecies
Grus antigone antigone
Approximate current global distribution
The Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) is a large non-migratory crane found in parts of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. It is the tallest flying bird, and can grow to 1.8 m (5.9 ft) tall. Its wingspan can be up to 2.4 metres (8 ft) and its weight 8.4 kg (18.5 lb). It lives in open wetlands.
The Sarus Crane is easily distinguished from other cranes in the region by its overall grey colour and the contrasting red head and upper neck. They forage on marshes and shallow wetlands for roots, tubers, insects, crustaceans and small vertebrate prey. Like other cranes, they form long-lasting pairs and hold territories. There they perform territorial and courtship displays which include loud trumpeting, leaps and dance-like movements. In India they are symbols of faithfulness, and are thought to mate for life, and pine the loss of their mates even to the point of starving to death.
The main breeding season is during the rainy season, when the pair builds an enormous nest "island", a circular platform of reeds and grasses nearly two metres in diameter and high enough to stay above the shallow water surrounding it.
Sarus Crane numbers have declined greatly in the last century. It is estimated that the current population is a tenth or less (perhaps 2.5%) of the numbers that existed in the 1850s. The stronghold of the species is Rajasthan, India, where it is traditionally revered. It lives in wetlands, and in agricultural lands close to humans. Elsewhere, the species has been eliminated in many parts of its former range.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Grus antigone". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/106002787. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- These and other figures refer to the Indian subspecies, Grus antigone antigone.
- Wood T.C. & Krajewsky C. 1996. Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation among the subspecies of Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) (PDF). The Auk 113 (3): 655–663. 
- Vyas, Rakesh (2002). "Status of Sarus Crane Grus antigone antigone in Rajasthan and its ecological requirements". Zoos' Print Journal 17 (2): 691–695. http://www.zoosprint.org/ZooPrintJournal/2002/February/691-695.pdf.
- Blanford, W.T (1896). "A note on the two sarus cranes of the Indian region". Ibis 2: 135–136.
- There is no evidence for this.
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