National Bird of China – Red-Crowned Crane

The Red-crowned Crane is the national bird of China. These majestic birds are known for their elegance and beauty and are one of the rarest cranes in the world. The Red-crowned Crane is also known as the Manchurian crane or Japanese. These cranes are most commonly found in the areas of east-central China and Japan in the winter times and spend their spring and summer months in Siberia and North Eastern China for the breeding season.

The Red-crowned Crane is held in extremely high regard in Chinese culture with these birds having an association with happiness and long life. The population level of these birds in China is currently very low and there is an active initiative to increase the population of these wonderful birds. The sanctuary has been put in place to ensure the future of these birds of importance.  

They have a distinguished look to them with their white feathers and red crown on the top of their heads. The red part of their head is actually not feathers, but their bare skin. They have an incredibly elegant stance and you can see why these beautiful birds are held in such high regard. 

Where do they live?

Breeding for Red-crowned cranes happens in the Anur basin which divides Russia and China. These are aquatic birds by nature, so water is their happy place. During the winters their time is spent in freshwater marshes in China and Japan and in the summers they spend their time in the wetlands of the Anur basin. 

Where is the best place to see Red-crowned cranes in the wild?

The sanctuary in Panjin is located on the Northern shore of Liaodong Bay. Here there are hundreds of birds that are kept, nurtured, and released into the wild once they are ready. This is the best place to get a view of them up close and personal. 

Interesting facts about the Red-crowned crane

  • They are one of the world’s largest cranes standing over 5 feet tall and with a wingspan of 8 feet these are big birds
  • They are omnivorous birds, so have a diet of small fish, aquatic invertebrates, plants and small mammals
  • Red-crowned cranes are the heaviest type of cranes coming in at an average of 20 pounds for a fully grown male
  • A very sociable bird they live in flocks and have a large social element to their lives
  • Red-crowned cranes are monogamous creatures and pair with a mate to build a family like structure 
  • On average they live for 15 years. This is for birds that are in captivity. There is limited tracking of the lifespan of these birds in the wild. Zoologist’s estimate that birds in the wild can live to be 20 years old.