Birds – Demoiselle Crane

The other species mentioned above as closely related to the last is the Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo), which is widely dispersed from southern Europe to central Asia and northern China, migrating in winter to Africa and India. It is the smallest of all the Cranes, being only about thirty inches long. The general color is pearl-gray, but it may be further distinguished by its long and very copious white ear-tufts, while the neck and the pendent breast-plumes are black. In winter they associate in often immense flocks, feeding mainly in the grain fields, but retiring during the heat of the day to the larger rivers, where they may often be seen standing in the shallow water. Of their nesting habits, as observed in Bulgaria, Cullen says: “The nest of the Demoiselle Crane is, without exception, made on the ground, usually amidst some kind of young grain, but often amongst grass on fallow land. The nest — if indeed such it can be called is made by the birds pulling up or treading down the grain, grass, or stubble for the space of about two feet and scratching the shallowest possible hollow in the middle of the bare patch thus formed.” The eggs, always two in number, are placed side by side with the small ends invariably pointing in the same direction. In color the eggs are usually a dirty pale green, more or less thickly spotted with umber-brown.