First ever Red-Crowned Crane chick hatches at Martin Mere

The red-crowned crane, also known as the Japanese crane (Grus japonensis), is one of the rarest crane species in the wild, and is currently endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.

The breeding pair, which are both captive, were introduced to the site in 2017. The chick is their first successful offspring as previously laid eggs have been infertile. The new addition is particularly exciting, as it can be hard for the species to breed in captivity.

The red-crowned crane, along with the other species of crane, is monogamous and will usually find one partner which they will mate with for life. They have a fascinating method of mating by synchronised dancing, which they will perform together over the years to strengthen their bond.

They will breed from April until May and will build their nests on wet ground or shallow water. Usually, they will produce two eggs which will hatch in around 29-34 days.

In the wild, the semiaquatic bird’s natural habitat is wetlands in places such as East Asia and Russia. Due to a loss in wetland habitat, there has been a decline in population over the years which is why it’s vital to reserve these habitats if we want the population to thrive.

Centre Manager, Nick Brooks, said, “The successful hatching of the red-crowned crane chick is a great achievement for the centre as the breeding pair have struggled in the past with previous eggs being infertile.”

“We will be keeping an eye on the chick as it grows. We are currently giving it preventative treatment once a week, measuring, weighing and worming it. However, the parents are doing a great job feeding and protecting it, so there isn’t much intervention needed.”

You can meet the chick at the centre by walking to the wildfowl collection during your visit.

Image: Chris Short

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