Common Cranes are rather stork-like but with big bushy tails and grey bodies; even from a great distance you’ll also see the white stripe through the black head. In flight, the long neck, held outstretched and slightly drooping makes them quite different from the herons and the grey plumage eliminates both of the storks. Their habit of flying in flocks in ‘V’ formation and making trumpeting calls may cause confusion with geese but the long trailing legs soon scotch that idea.

Cranes use two major migration routes. Birds from Scandinavia and the Baltic winter mainly in Spain  Portugal  having rested in large numbers in Germany and France. Birds using the eastern flyway migrate to north-east Africa, Turkey and the Middle East after staging in Estonia and Hungary.

Breeds in large areas of marsh and bog. Occurs in winter and on passage in open, often agricultural, areas close to large wetlands used for roosting.

Flocks of Cranes in late spring can be watched performing their ‘dancing’ displays. This usually involves opening their wings and leaping vertically into the air with the legs dangling. Once one bird starts this, others will join in and the whole performance can even be initiated by a human pretending to be a dancing crane. Once the birds are paired off they are more likely to perform different displays involving stretching their necks vertically and trumpeting.

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