1407. Grus communis.
The Common Crane.
Ardea grus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 234 (1766'). Grus communis, Bechst. Naturg. Deutschl. iii, p. 60 (1793) ; Hume, Cat. no. 865 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 21, pl.: Butler, S. F. iv, p. 15 ; ix, p. 427 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 68; Barnes, Birds Bom.-p. 341. Grus cinerea, Meyer & Wolf, Taschenb. ii, p. 350 (1810) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 274; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 664 ; Blyth, Ibis, 1873, p. 81 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 235; Adam, ibid. p. 395; Butler, S F. iv, p. 15 ; Fairbank, ibid. p. 263; Ball, S. F. Vii, p. 227; Scully, S. F. viii. p. 352; Simson, Ibis, 1882, p. 93. Grus grus et G. lilfordi, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxii, pp. 250, 252 (1894).
Burundi, Kurch, Kulang, H.; Kunj, Sind; kallam, Deccan; Kulangi, Tel.
Coloration. Crown and lores nearly naked, with scattered black hairs ; on the nape a blackish-slaty triangular patch, the point behind ; a white band down each side of the head from the eye, joining behind the nape and covering the hind neck ; cheek, chin, throat, fore neck, and sides of neck dark slaty like the nape; rest of plumage above and below ashy grey, paler or darker, except the winglet, the primaries, the greater primary-coverts away from their bases, and the tips of the secondaries and tertiaries, which are black ; ends of the tail-feathers blackish.
Young birds are brownish owing to the grey feathers having isabelline edges, and the head is feathered throughout. The nestlings are covered with down of a yellowish-buff colour. In old birds the webs of the elongate tertiary quills are free, and the tertiaries form a loose-textured plume.
Skin of crown blackish, with a broad band of dingy red across the occiput; bill dingy horny green, yellowish towards the tip; irides orange-red to reddish brown; legs and feet black, soles brown to fleshy.
Length about 45; tail 8; wing 22 to end of primaries; tarsus 9.5; bill from gape 4.6.
Distribution. A migratory bird, breeding in Northern Europe and Northern Asia, and wintering in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, South-western Asia, Northern India, and China. In India this Crane is found as far south as the Mahanadi of Orissa to the eastward, and throughout the Bombay Deccan, and it is said to occur in Travancore (this requires confirmation); but it is unknown generally in Southern India and throughout Ceylon, Assam, and Burma, and is more common in Northern than in Central India.
Dr. R. B. Sharpe in bis Catalogue distinguished the Eastern Crane as G. lilfordi on account of its paler Coloration. Mr. Blyth long ago pointed out some distinctions in the colour of the naked crown. But it is extremely doubtful whether any differences are constant, and I learn from Dr. Sharpe that be no longer looks upon the Eastern Crane as a distinct species.
Habits, &c The Common Crane arrives in Northern India in October and leaves about March, a few stragglers remaining longer. It is usually seen in flocks, large or small, which pass the middle of the day and the whole night in the sandy beds of rivers or on the borders of banks or marshes, feed in the grain-fields in the early morning and in the evening, and fly from one to the other in an extended line, frequently more or less V-shaped. The call of this bird is a fine clear note, often uttered during flight and not unfrequently heard when the birds are at so great a height in the air as to be almost out of sight. Cranes that have fed for a time on the grain and shoots of wheat, rice, gram, arhar, and other crops are delicious ; ill-fed birds are coarse. The Common Crane has not been known to breed in India.