(2034) Grus grus lilfordi.
THE EASTERN COMMON CRANE.
Grus lilfordi Sharpe, Cat. B. M, xxiii, p. 252 (1894) (E. Siberia). Grus communis. Blanf. & Oates, IV, p. 186,
Vernacular names. Kuranch Kurch (Hind.); Kunj (Sind.); Kullam (Duncan) ; Kulangi (Tel.).
Description. Lores and crown to nape bare black skin with scattered black hairs; a broad band of bare skin brick-red to red across the nape, the black hairs even more scarce than on the crown ; a patch of grey leathers behind the bare red spaces; sides of face grey; ear-coverts, sides of head and neck white, running back behind the grey neck-patch and down the hind-neck; wing-let, primaries, the terminal portions of the primary coverts and the tips of the long secondaries black ; chin, throat and fore-neck dark slaty-brown; remainder of plumage pale, almost silvery-grey ; tail slightly darker grey, blackish towards the tip.
Colours of soft parts. Iris orange-red to red-brown or crimson; bill dull glaucous or dingy green, paler and more yellow towards the tip; legs and feet black, the soles paler, more brown, greenish or even fleshy.
Measurements. Wing 533 to 608 mm.; tail 192 to 205 mm.; tarsus 225 to 258 mm.; culmen 105 to 118 mm.
Young birds have the edges of the grey feathers isabelline or rufescent-isabelline; the sides of the head and neck and hind-neck pale rusty-rufous ; feathers cover the red bare skin on the nape, whilst the crown also is more or less covered with the same; the drooping inner secondaries are wanting.
Half-grown birds have the edging to the feathers more rufous and more conspicuous and the whole crown and neck clothed with rusty-coloured feathers.
Chicks in down are pale golden-fuscous above; a broad line of deeper tint runs down the centre of the back and two narrower less-defined lines from the wings down each side of the body; centre of crown and a mark above the eye dark golden-rufous; below sandy-buff, albescent on the chin and fore-neck and pale on the centre of the abdomen.
Distribution. The Eastern Common Crane breeds in Eastern Siberia from the Yenesei basin eastwards and in Turkestan. In winter it migrates South to China and practically the whole of Northern India. It is extremely common in North-West India and extends South through the greater part of the Bombay Presidency and the Deccan. It has occurred in Southern Orissa and I have seen it as far east as Lakhimpur and Cachar in Assam on several occasions.
Nidification. Buturlin gives the breeding-range of this Crane as Altai, Turkestan, Dauria to Manchuria and North from Siberia to the 66th degree of latitude. The nest is said to be a big untidy heap of ail kinds of rubbish placed on the ground in swamps and marshes, whilst the eggs, two in number always, are not distinguishable from those of the Common Crane. The few eggs I have seen varied in ground-colour from pale greenish- or yellowish-grey to olive or yellow-brown, sparingly marked with reddish-brown blotches and secondary markings of light reddish and grey. Six eggs-average 93.8 x 59.6 mm.: maxima 95.2 X 59.9 mm.; minima 90.2 X57.0 mm.
The breeding-season is May and June.
Habits. The Eastern Common Crane is a regular migrant to Northern India in very great numbers, arriving in October and leaving again in March and April. It is a shy wary bird, passing most of the dav either on sand-banks in wide open rivers or in marshes and shallow lakes, feeding during the early mornings and late evenings. The call is a fine trumpet-like sound, uttered when the bird is on the wing and is audible from a great distance. When flying for any distance these birds keep in a V-shaped line but, when merely moving from one Feeding-ground to another, they keep to no special formation. They are almost omnivorous in their diet but are mainly vegetarian, feeding on green crops and often doing much damage to them. They are among our most excellent of birds for the table,