Demoiselle Crane

Anthropoides virgo (Linnaeus, 1758)

Order Gruiformes

Family Gruidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Extinct EX, BDA-III; International: CITES-II, BeC-II, BoC-II.

General distribution. A Paleoxeric species that breeds in the Ukraine, Southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Northern China. It winters in Africa to the south of Sahara and in Industan.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. At present a passage migrant, in the past it was found in the breeding season near the city of Burgas (1904) and the town of General Toshevo (1951). Extinct as a breeding species about the middle of the 20th century; the last registered breeding is from 1951 [1]. During migration it was registered near Burgas (1958, 1959, 1969, 1982) and the town of Pomorie (1982) [1, 2]. After 1980, 2 birds were observed on 25-27 April 2001 near Durankulak Lake [3]. Probably singular Demoiselle Cranes or small flocks (of 8-12 individuals) still fly along the Bulgarian Black Sea shore. It is possible for singular pairs to start breeding in Northeastern Bulgaria (Dobrudzha), as the Ukrainian and the Russian breeding populations are growing.

Habitats. Steppes, savannas, open large terrains without forests near river valleys but also mountainous steppes (plateaus), grassy (including bushes) and sandy, clayey terrains, stone semi-deserts; it mainly breeds in herbaceous associations of wild corn plants Spear-grass, Fescue, Mugwort etc. [1]. It also nests secondarily in areas under crops (winter crops, etc.).

Biology. In Bulgaria the population was migrational. Ground-nesting. It nests along the banks of rivers or marshes where it goes to drink water every day. The young ones are nidifugous. Monogamous. It lays 2 (1-3) eggs that it incubates for 27-29 days. In the spring, up to 10-20 individuals gather for courtship dances. It follows the herds of large grazing cattle to catch the alarmed insects among the grasses.

Similar species. Grus grus (the Common Crane, the Eurasian Crane).

Negative factors. Destruction and change of habitats, disturbance during breeding and migration, illegal hunting, environmental pollution with pesticides, mechanization, building, etc.

Conservation measures taken. Some wetland areas used for rest during migration are protected natural territories. Possibilities are discussed for developing a long-term programme for attracting migrating birds and birds that stop during migration, for supplying Demoiselle Cranes from the Ukraine or from Russia and their release as captive bred birds in flat steppe regions with the presence of standing water basins; for building a network of guarded places for rest during migration and courting.

References. 1. Boev, 1985; 2. Simeonov et al., 1990; 3. Petkov, 2002.

Authors: Zlatozar Boev, Nikolai Petkov

Demoiselle Crane (distribution map)

Demoiselle Crane (drawing)