The family Gruidae includes 3 species found in North America.
Cranes are large, long-legged, long-necked birds with long, broad wings, a short tail and a straight bill of medium length. Plumages are mainly gray, white, brown, blue and black. Sexes are similar in plumage but the females are smaller.
Cranes are omnivorous; all species use their bills to dig and probe for roots and tubers of marsh plants and they graze and browse on seeds, sedges, tender plants, buds, fruits, acorns and cultivated crops. Insects, other small invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and the eggs and chicks of birds are taken. Nests are composed of plants and are always on the ground, usually in marshes, sometimes in grassland or open woodland.
Eggs of most species are brownish with flecks of darker brown, or whitish with brown flecks. Usually 2 eggs are laid and 1 young is reared; incubation by both parents about 30 days. Both parents feed the young bill-to-bill. Fledging varies from 55-105 days in different species. Adults pair for life and return to the same spot to breed, sometimes using the same nest which becomes larger as they add to it over several years. They reach maturity at an average age of 4-5 years. Longevity in captivity to 55 years, in the wild probably at least 25 years.
International Crane Foundation
Bring Back the Cranes
Cranes - Patuxent Bird ID Center
The Whooping Crane Report
Whooping Crane Status Survey