Birds – Asiatic White Crane

Quite similar to our Whooping Crane, but longer, and with the hinder part of the crown feathered, is the Asiatic White Crane (G. leucogeranus), which is sometimes placed in a separate genus (Sarcogeranus). According to Hume, who observed it in India, this species differs distinctly in that the windpipe is not convoluted within the breast-bone, but divides into two nearly equal tubes about three inches before it enters the lungs. As a result its notes are very weak as compared with those of any other Crane, being simply whistles, “from a mellow one to a peculiar feeble shrill shivering whistle.” While in its winter home it frequents especially the shallow rain-water lakes, where it feeds very largely on aquatic and other forms of vegetation, its snowy white plumage making it ever an object of interest. The nest of this species as observed in Siberia is made among dense reeds of various layers of these plants, and the eggs, two in number, are gray, streaked with dusky lines.

The Sárás Crane of India is typical of another group of three species which have been separated under the generic name of Antigone. They have long and slender bills, but are especially characterized by having the crown of the head bare and covered on the hind neck for a distance of several inches with coarse crimson warts, mixed with which is a scant covering of black hairs. The species above mentioned (A. antigone), which is found in northern and central India, is a large bird nearly fifty inches long, light pearly gray above, with a broad white band on the upper portion of the neck, separating the bare neck from the gray of the back. The Sárás Crane is not as gregarious as are many other species, being usually observed in pairs or very small parties near water, nor do they migrate like most of the others. They are tamer and more confiding than is usual among Cranes, and members of a pair are much attached to each other. The form found in Burma, Cochin China, and the Malay Peninsula has been separated as a distinct species (A. sharpei), differing from the other in the absence of the white collar, while the Australian Crane, the “Native Companion” of the colonists (A. australasiana) of eastern Australia, has the neck feathered to the nape. Gould speaks of the latter bird as stately and elegant in all its movements when on the ground, and often soaring at a vast height, uttering the while its hoarse, croaking cry. It nests on the ground, depositing its two eggs in a slight depression on the bare plains, or occasionally in swampy lands near the coast.