Any of 15 species of tall wading birds of the family Gruidae (order Gruiformes). Superficially, cranes resemble herons but usually are larger and have a partly naked head, a heavier bill, more compact plumage, and an elevated hind toe. In flight the long neck is stretched out in front, the stiltlike legs trailing out behind.

Cranes form an ancient group, the earliest fossils having been recovered from Eocene deposits in North America. Living forms are found worldwide except in South America, but populations of many are endangered by hunting and habitat destruction.

These graceful terrestrial birds stalk about in marshes and on plains, eating small animals of all sorts as well as grain and grass shoots. Two olive-gray eggs spotted with brown are laid in a nest of grasses and weed stalks on drier ground in marsh or field. The same nest may be used year after year. The brownish, downy young can run about shortly after hatching. The trachea (windpipe) is simple in the chick but lengthens with age, coiling upon itself like a French horn. It lies buried in the hollow keel of the breastbone and reaches a length of 1.5 m (5 feet) in the adult whooping crane (q.v.; Grus americana).

The sandhill crane (G. canadensis) breeds from Alaska to Hudson Bay; it formerly bred in south-central Canada and the Great Lakes region of the United States but is now rare in these regions. This brownish-gray crane is about 90 to 110 cm (35 to 43 inches) long. Its call is long, harsh, and penetrating. The Florida sandhill crane (G. c. pratensis), a smaller race, breeds in Florida and southern Georgia and is nonmigratory. Other subspecies of sandhills are classified as rare or endangered. The common crane (G. grus) breeds in Europe and northern Asia, wintering in large flocks in northern Africa, India, and China. The Australian crane, native companion, or brolga (G. rubicunda), lives in Australia and southern New Guinea. The demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo) breeds in Algeria, southeastern Europe, and Central Asia; the crowned crane (Balearica pavonina regulorum), over nearly all of Africa; and the wattled crane (Bugeranus carunculatus), in eastern and southern Africa.

American Journal of Zoology
January 2013, pp. 117-8

Geographical RangeNortheastern United States
HabitatDecaying Urban
Scientific NamePending
Conservation StatusNot listed by IUCN

The Crane was found building a nest in a large open field just outside of ███████ █████████████ in the autumn of last year. It began scavenging food and nesting material by poaching nearby abandoned buildings, weaving an immense spiralling rustshadowed mass of girders. After a series of emergency meetings and much argument over whether to call in the National Guard, local government decided it was more cost effective to simply leave the Crane to its machinations.

In November 2012, the Crane blocked a highway while picking through an aging industrial complex. It was evacuated and the State Police rerouted everyone onto back roads. Local resident ██ ██████ reported, "I was coming back from the ████████ about five o'clock. Out-of-towners were rubbernecking the whole way because you could see the thing over the treetops, just pulling beams out of that old concrete building. Crane's hypnotizing. Chunks of concrete falling off, beams all twisted. Eerie quiet like---it's so big you can see what it's doing but be too far away to really hear the amount of noise it makes. Anyway it's about time somebody did something about that place. Thing was ugly as sin when they put it in, and it hasn't gotten any prettier. Used to be a forest, you know." By sunset, the Crane had returned to its nest with a bundle of steel and a belly full of gasoline.

By December, it had succeeded in attracting a mate. Having no similar species to compare, zoologists can only guess at the duration of the mating rituals, incubation, and the probable number and nature of hatchlings. When together, the Cranes often stand very still, cables swinging in the breeze. On one occasion, they suddenly began "fishing"---whipping laterally and releasing their entire spools, then dragging their hooks back over the landscape. The south side of town (the "historic district") sustained heavy damage during this act of courtship. There were two fatalities and seven wounded.

Scientists continue to monitor the Cranes into the new year. See the upcoming paper by Pearl and Reynolds for more details.

Cran (kran), Crane (krAn) , n. [Scot., fr. Gael. crann.]

A measure for fresh herrings, -- as many as will fill a barrel. [Scot.] H. Miller.


© Webster 1913

Crane (krAn), n. [AS. cran; akin to D. & LG. craan, G. kranich, krahn (this in sense 2), Gr. ge`ranos, L. grus, W. & Armor. garan, OSlav. zeravi, Lith. gerve, Icel. trani, Sw. trana, Dan. trane. √24. Cf. Geranium.]

1. (Zoöl.)

A wading bird of the genus Grus, and allied genera, of various species, having a long, straight bill, and long legs and neck.

⇒ The common European crane is Grus cinerea. The sand-hill crane (G. Mexicana) and the whooping crane (G. Americana) are large American species. The Balearic or crowned crane is Balearica pavonina. The name is sometimes erroneously applied to the herons and cormorants.


A machine for raising and lowering heavy weights, and, while holding them suspended, transporting them through a limited lateral distance. In one form it consists of a projecting arm or jib of timber or iron, a rotating post or base, and the necessary tackle, windlass, etc.; -- so called from a fancied similarity between its arm and the neck of a crane See Illust. of Derrick.


An iron arm with horizontal motion, attached to the side or back of a fireplace, for supporting kettles, etc., over a fire.


A siphon, or bent pipe, for drawing liquors out of a cask.

5. (Naut.)

A forked post or projecting bracket to support spars, etc., -- generally used in pairs. See Crotch, 2.

Crane fly (Zoöl.), a dipterous insect with long legs, of the genus Tipula. --
Derrick crane. See Derrick. --
Gigantic crane. (Zoöl.) See Adjutant, n., 3. --
Traveling crane, Traveler crane, Traversing crane (Mach.), a crane mounted on wheels; esp., an overhead crane consisting of a crab or other hoisting apparatus traveling on rails or beams fixed overhead, as in a machine shop or foundry. --
Water crane, a kind of hydrant with a long swinging spout, for filling locomotive tenders, water carts, etc., with water.


© Webster 1913

Crane (krAn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Craned (krAnd); p. pr. & vb. n. Craning.]


To cause to rise; to raise or lift, as by a crane; -- with up. [R.]

What engines, what instruments are used in craning up a soul, sunk below the center, to the highest heavens.

An upstart craned up to the height he has.


To stretch, as a crane stretches its neck; as, to crane the neck disdainfully. G. Eliot.


© Webster 1913

Crane, n.


Any arm which swings about a vertical axis at one end, used for supporting a suspended weight.

2. (Zoöl.)

The American blue heron (Ardea herodias). [Local, U. S.]


© Webster 1913

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