We have 2 cranes in North America. However in the Birds of East Asia guide, they have 7 species of crane and I saw 3 of them.
The tallest of them is the 56" Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus). It is an all white crane with black wingtips, seen in flight. Thus it is similar to our Whooping Crane. And like our crane, this one is critically endangered. There were historically 2 populations breeding in the Siberian arctic. The western population wintered in Iran and India, but the India subgroup has been extirpated and there are estimated only 10 birds left wintering in Iran. So most of the world population of 2-3,000 birds are the eastern population and 95% of them winter in the huge Poyang Lake wetland area in China. This area is threatened with water level changes due to construction of the Three Gorges Dam. The International Crane center has successfully bred this crane in captivity.
The 46" Common Crane (Grus grus) is next in size. It is light gray with a black neck and head with a white lateral stripe down the neck. This one has a huge range all across Eurasia and is not in any danger with an estimated word wide population of 600,000.
The last is the 40" Hooded Crane (Grus monacha). It is a dark gray crane with a white neck. It is listed as vulnerable as the population is estimated at only 10,000 birds. They breed in southeastern Siberia and winter in China, Korea and Japan.
This next bird is an amazing example of bird recovery. The 23" Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) was thought to be extinct in early 1980s due to habitat loss and agricultural chemical use. Then a small remnant flock of 7 birds was found in a poor rural province in China where the people could not afford chemical use. From there with captive breeding it has rebounded to more than 500 birds and now is listed as endangered only. It is a gray ibis with a red face, and with pinkish hue in breeding plumage.
The 34" Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) is a white bird with a black bill.
The 28" Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) is a white heron with a yellow bill in winter. It is the bird behind in the photo.
|Intermediate Egret (behind)|
The 30" Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a brown bittern with a streaked neck similar to our American Bittern. We saw about 6 of these birds in the Poyang Lake area. It is also known as the Great Bittern.
And another in his camouflage pose.
Kingfishers are much more common in the Old World. We have only 6 in the Americas of a total of 113 species worldwide. The 7" Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) has a blue head and back with reddish underparts. This one caught a minnow and as we watched, a Long-tailed Shrike chased him and caused him to drop his fish.
The 11" White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) has a red head and underparts, with blue back and wings and white throat and breast and a bright red bill.
Both these small kingfishers I had seen in Hong Kong previously, but this next one was a treat and we saw it at the last moment before the trip pended. It is the huge 17" Crested Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris). It is dark blue and white with a bushy crest.
I have photos of 5 of the 15 species of cranes.
I have photos of 8 of the 35 species of ibises and spoonbills.
I have photos of 25 of the 66 species of herons, egrets and bitterns.
I have photos of 9 of the 113 species of kingfishers.
photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald
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