Eurasian cranes Grus grus, photographed by Nicole Bouglouan.

Belongs within: Gruiformes.

The Gruidae, cranes, are a group of large long-legged and -necked birds found in the Old World and North America. They are highly vocal and many produce loud, melodious trumpeting calls. Within the cranes, it is generally agreed that the African crowned cranes (Balearica), distinguished by a crown of stiff golden feathers on top of the head, are the sister taxon to the remaining living species (Livezey 1998). The blue crane Anthropoides paradiseus of southern Africa and demoiselle crane A. virgo of central Eurasia are relatively small cranes with predominantly blue-grey plumage.

Synapomorphies (from Livezey 1998): Os lacrimale with processus orbitalis highly pneumatic, having one or more conspicuous foramina pneumatica on facies lateralis; carina sterni, margo cranialis, with sulcus carinae deep and ventrally extensive; depressio m. brachialis of extremitas proximalis ulnae with prominent crista brachialis proximally; margo dorsalis of extremitas distalis radii with expansion producing approximate symmetry with tuberculum aponeurosis; condylus lateralis of extremitas distalis tibiotarsi flattened or notched distally; fossa parahypotarsalis medialis, distal extent relative to hypotarsus, with crista medialis hypotarsi narrow or obsolete; scapulars with conspicuous elongation combined with ventral curvature; 19-25 secondary remiges.

<==Gruidae [Anthropoidinae, Anthropoidini, Gruini, Megalornithidae, Megalornithiformes]
    |  i. s.: Palaeogrus Portis 1884 M02
    |           |--*P. princeps Portis 1884 (see below for synonymy) M02
    |           `--P. hordwelliensis (Lydekker 1891) [=Grus hordwelliensis, Ornitocnemus hordwelliensis] M02
    |         Geranopsis Lydekker 1891 M02
    |           `--*G. hastingsiae Lydekker 1891 M02
    |         Eobalearica tugarinovi Gureev 1949 M09
    |--Balearica Brisson 1760 BKB15, M02 [Balearicinae]
    |    |--B. excelsa (Milne-Edwards 1868) [=Grus excelsa, Ornitocnemus excelsa, Palaeogrus excelsa] M02
    |    |--B. exigua JM14
    |    |--B. pavonina (Linnaeus 1758) L98
    |    |    |--B. p. pavonina RN72
    |    |    `--B. p. cecilae RN72
    |    `--B. regulorum (Bennett 1833) L98
    |         |--B. r. regulorum K08 [=B. pavonina regulorum RN72]
    |         `--B. r. gibbericeps K08 [=B. pavonina gibbericeps RN72]
    `--+--‘Grus’ canadensis (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, L98
       |    |--G. c. canadensis USDI77
       |    |--G. c. nesiotes USDI77
       |    `--G. c. pulla USDI77
       `--+--+--Bugeranus Gloger 1841 BKB15, L98
          |  |    `--B. carunculatus (Gmelin 1789) BKB15, M02 [=Grus carunculatus L98]
          |  `--Anthropoides Vieillot 1816 BKB15, L98
          |       |--A. paradiseus Lichtenstein 1793 BKB15, L98 [=Grus paradisea L98, Tetrapteryx paradisea RN72]
          |       `--A. virgo Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, L98 [=Grus virgo L98]
          `--Grus Brisson 1760 BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
               |  i. s.: G. cinerea C01
               |         G. marshi FP64
               |         G. moldavica (Kuročkin & Ganea 1972) [=Probalearica moldavica] M02
               |         G. pentelici Gaudry 1862 (see below for synonymy) M02
               |         G. primigenia Milne-Edwards 1869 (see below for synonymy) M02
               |--+--G. leucogeranus (Pallas 1773) BKB15, M02 [=Leucogeranus leucogeranus L98]
               |  `--+--G. antigone (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, M02
               |     |    |--G. a. antigone WK96
               |     |    |--G. a. gillae WK96
               |     |    `--G. a. sharpei WK96
               |     `--+--G. rubicunda (Perry 1810) BKB15, L98 (see below for synonymy)
               |        `--G. vipio Pallas 1811 BKB15, L98
               `--+--G. japonensis (Müller 1776) BKB15, L98 [=Ardea japonensis M01]
                  `--+--G. americana (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, L98
                     `--+--*G. grus (Linnaeus 1758) CC10, BKB15, M02 (see below for synonymy)
                        |    |--G. g. grus I92
                        |    `--G. g. lilfordi Sharpe 1894 I92
                        `--+--G. monacha Temminck 1835 BKB15, L98
                           `--G. nigricollis Prezhwalsky 1876 BKB15, L98

Grus Brisson 1760 BKB15, CC10 [incl. Leucogeranus Bonaparte 1855 L98, Megalornis Gray 1841 B94; Gruinae, Megalornithinae]

*Grus grus (Linnaeus 1758) CC10, BKB15, M02 [=Ardea grus CC10; incl. G. turfa Portis 1884 M02]

Grus pentelici Gaudry 1862 [=Pliogrus pentelici; incl. G. afghana Mourer-Chauviré, Balouet et al. 1985] M02

Grus primigenia Milne-Edwards 1869 [incl. Sarcogeranus bohatshevi Serebrovskij 1940, G. leucogeranus bogatshevi (l. c.), Leucogeranus bohatschevi, G. melitensis Lydekker 1890] M02

Grus rubicunda (Perry 1810) BKB15, L98 [=Ardea rubicunda WS48; incl. Mathewsia rubicunda argentea Mathews 1912 WS48]

*Palaeogrus princeps Portis 1884 [=Grus princeps, Ornitocnemis robustus Zigno in Portis 1884 (n. n.), Ornitocnemus robustus] M02

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[C01] Csiki, E. 1901. Utivázlat [Reiseskizze]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. xii–xli. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[FP64] Fisher, J., & R. T. Peterson. 1964. The World of Birds: A comprehensive guide to general ornithology. Macdonald: London.

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[K08] Kellogg, V. L. 1908. Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der Schwedischen Zoologischen Expedition nach dem Kilimandjaro, dem Meru und den Umgebenden Massaisteppen Deutsch-Ostafrikas 1905–1906 vol. 15. Corrodentia pt 4. Mallophaga. Almqvist & Wiksells Boktryckeri-A. B.: Uppsala.

[L98] Livezey, B. C. 1998. A phylogenetic analysis of the Gruiformes (Aves) based on morphological characters, with an emphasis on the rails (Rallidae). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B—Biological Sciences 353: 2077–2151.

[M01] Madarász, J. 1901. Madarak [Vögel]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 21–39. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[M09] Mayr, G. 2009. Paleogene Fossil Birds. Springer.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 1. London, Blandford Press.

[USDI77] USDI (United States Department of the Interior). 1977. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants—republication of list of species. Federal Register 42: 36420–36431.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

[WK96] Wood, T. C., & C. Krajewski. 1996. Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation among the subspecies of sarus crane (Grus antigone). Auk 113: 655–663.

Last updated: 29 January 2022.

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