The Faithful Sarus Crane

Let me introduce you to the tallest flying bird in the world.


Tallest Flying bird…



Together always

These graceful, grey giants stand almost six feet tall. The boy is slightly taller than the girl. From a distance, one can see the red head against the contrasting green of the fields it inhabits and its own pale grey body. They both are seen wearing a smallish grey cap.


According to the folklore in India, the Sarus crane is believed to be a symbol of faithfulness. This is represented in our ancient art and brass figurines. It is also said that killing one bird would cause its partner to die of grief. I think this holds true because I have always seen them in pairs. And they remain aware of each other’s whereabouts even while feeding. In case they sense any danger, one of them gives a warning call to alert the other and they fly away together.

Their annual dance:


The dancing couple…

I got an opportunity to witness their dance in Basai wetland. Unlike the Indian Peafowl, where only the male dances, both our boy and girl danced, jumping around in shallow water. With wings outstretched, trying to impress each other like excited kids who have just found a puddle of water to splash around in, sometimes mimicking each other’s moves and at others, just doing their own thing.

The Nest:

The large nest is made mainly with wheat straw on the ground itself (Featured image at the top). The lady very patiently incubates while our man keeps a watch for danger while tending to her and bringing food. At times getting nesting material to reinforce the nest. Once in a while, she gets up to turn the egg, which she does gently with utmost precision and care despite her large size.

The chick is really tiny compared to his parents. Did you notice the little one in the nest picture (featured image)?

And they delicately feed the chick with their long beaks – bigger than the chick himself. Imagine how tough that would be! Still they manage to do it quite well.


The Sarus crane has been classified as vulnerable to extinction.


Habitat getting destroyed by rampant urbanization…


Rampant urbanization is destroying their habitat. The nesting area (featured image) has already been destroyed and we now have tall buildings and a road there.

In the past, hunting reduced their population considerably.


Vulnerable to extinction…

Also, these birds are severely affected by climate change because unseasonal and heavy rains in the nesting time can cause flooding of its ”ground” nest and in case the rains fail, drought affects availability of food.

As they are rarely in large flocks, there is no safety in numbers.

Sad isn’t it?


  • Wonderful post Aditya! Thanks for your showcase of this rare bird, which sometimes is seen in our country also.

  • Yes, a most magnificent crane, although I don’t know much about cranes, the beauty and elegance of this one is immediate. This is a very graphic example of human blindness and stupidity ( and greed ). Thanks for a refreshing, and at the same time sad, share.

    • Thank you. It is very sad indeed that the poor bird is losing out to human greed.
      About Cranes, you may want to check out my earlier post on the Demoiselle Crane. That is a contrasting and inspiring story of how humans have taken it upon themselves to protect the bird.
      Thanks again for visiting.

  • It was interesting to read about Sarus and I like that deep crimson around their head. It is even more interesting to see that your post coincides with “Saras”, India’s First Home-Made Passenger Plane that was in news today!. 

  • Thanks for your post. The first time I encountered Sarus Cranes was in Zoo Miami’s Aviary. They were walking down the walk, and I am only 4’11”. Needless to say, I looked up to them. 🙂 I also stepped off the walk and let them pass.

    • Thank you for your comments. I think irrespective of our heights, we all look up to this elegant and graceful bird. You are very lucky to see them up close. 🙂 In the wild, they are extremely shy. Do keep visiting.

  • I was very interested to read your blog Aditya. I saw 2 Common Cranes fly over on Sunday and they are quite rare for us in the UK. I love your narrative which is so informative and the great photos. Well done

    • Thank you for your kind words. I am happy that you liked my blog. Common Cranes visit my country too during winters. They are just as graceful and always a treat to watch. 🙂

  • Hi Info on Sarus Crane is great Keep it up. COL R P SINGH

    • Thank you, Sir. I am really happy that you liked my blog. Thank you for your comments. Look foward to hear more from you.

  • Most interesting – and the ‘urbanisation’ image is very powerful too. Good work. RH

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