Hooded Crane Grus monacha


Justification of Red List category
This crane has a small population, restricted to fewer than ten wintering sites whose combined area is small. It has declined at the majority of these wintering sites. Owing to these factors it is listed as Vulnerable. If there is evidence that the continuing decline in range parameters and or habitat quality has ceased, this species may be considered for down listing to Near Threatened in the future.

Population justification

The global population was estimated at c.11,600 individuals based on winter estimates of 1,050-1,150 individuals in China (J. Harris in litt. 2012); c.10,500 individuals in Japan (S. Chan in litt. 2012) and c.114 individuals in Korea (Li and Mundkur 2004). Recent estimates suggest there may have been an increase from 11,500 a decade ago, to an estimated 14,000 - 16,000 individuals in winter 2014/2015 (J. Harris in litt. 2016). The wide range in the current population estimate reflects the difficulty of counting the dense flocks of cranes at Izumi and the lack of recent range-wide winter counts for China (J. Harris in litt. 2016). The population is thus placed in the band for 6,000-15,000 mature individuals. 

Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be decreasing at a moderate rate, in line with levels of wetland loss and degradation in its wintering grounds, primarily as a result of reclamation for development and dam building. Based upon winter counts, it is increasing at Izumi in Japan and Suncheon Bay in South Korea but the species is declining at all seven of its other known wintering sites (S. Chan in litt. 2006).  Across the whole population the past decline appears to have stabilised.

Distribution and population

Grus monacha breeds in south-central and south-eastern Siberia, Russia (BirdLife International 2001). Breeding is suspected in Mongolia and two breeding sites have been found in the region of Heilongjiang, China (Yuming et al. 2006, Guo Yu-min et al. 2007). Its global population is estimated to be c.11,500 birds (J. Harris in litt. 2006). The majority of the population winter in Japan, with smaller numbers in China and South Korea. Over 80% of the population winters at Izumi, southern Japan, where 10,468 were recorded in 2009 (S. Chan in litt. 2012) and nearly 13,500 in 2014/15 (Haraguchi 2015). Around 300 were recorded in Shikoku in 2015, suggesting a possible new wintering site (Horino et al. 2015). A second Japanese wintering population at Yashiro (western Honshu) has declined considerably since the 1940s. There were 355 birds in 1940, down to 100-200 in the 1950s-1960s, 50-100 in the 1980s, 20-50 in early 1990s and about 20 birds in late 1990s. The current wintering population is currently lower than 10 birds (only 7 birds in 2012) (S. Chan in litt. 2012). An estimated 1,050-1,150 birds winter in China, including between 300-400 at Poyang (J. Harris in litt. 2012, Li et al. 2012), over 600 at Shengjin and Caizi and over 100 at Chongming (J. Harris in litt. 2012). Around 114 birds winter in South Korea (Li and Mundkur 2004), mainly at Suncheon Bay. A total of 1,088 individuals were counted at the Yangtze floodplain in 2005 (M. Barter in litt. 2006). The number wintering at Suncheon Bay in South Korea has been increasing, with nearly 900 in winter 2014/15 (Lee 2015).


It breeds in remote, wooded, upland bogs on gently sloping foothills and flat river terraces, mostly within the permafrost zone. It winters in freshwater marshes, wet grassland, coastal tidal flats and farmland. Paddy fields and meadows are commonly used habitat for foraging, though the species has a flexible strategy depending on food availability, with a range of habitats utilised (Zheng et al. 2015). Flock size has been found to be influenced by food availability and level of disturbance (Yang et al. 2015) and foraging behaviour is influenced by changes in water levels at Shengjin Lake (Zhang et al. 2015). Can exhibit interspecific competition with Anser fabalis, A. albifrons and A. erythropus at Shengjin Lake (Zhao et al. 2013).


The key threats are wetland loss and degradation in its wintering grounds in China and South Korea, as a result of reclamation for development and dam building, especially the Three Gorges Dam and a proposed dam at the outlet to Poyang Lake which threatens an important wintering site (Harris and Zhuang 2010, Harris and Mirande in prep.). Conversion of rice-paddies to cotton fields at Longgan Hu and Dongting Hu has caused declines. A newly discovered wintering site at Suncheon Bay, South Korea, is threatened by development. The artificially high concentration of birds at Izumi, as a result of supplementary feeding, risks a major population reduction from disease or another catastrophe.  The situation at Izumi is particularly sensitive because the area is a major poultry center so that huge economic interests could be threatened by a disease outbreak. Efforts to disperse Hooded Cranes to other locations has met with small success, and establishment of additional winter sites (together with a reduction in the concentration at Izumi) are considered essential to the species’ security (J. Harris in litt. 2016). Other threats in China include pollution of coastal waters, invasive cordgrass Spartina alterniflora in tidal areas, pesticide poisoning, increased levels of human disturbance and over-fishing. Some poaching and hunting of breeding birds occurs but disturbance by geese hunters is a larger issue than direct hunting (W. Heim in litt. 2016). A study that took samples from four wintering populations found genetic diversity to be low, and this may influence its ability to adapt to environmental change in the future (Zhang et al. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. CMS Appendix II. Key protected areas include Norsky, Daursky and Khingansky (Russia), Daguur and Ugtam (Mongolia), Shengjin Hu, Longgan Hu, parts of Poyang Hu, Dong Dongting Hu and Chen Hu (China), Mundok (North Korea), Suncheon Bay (South Korea ) and Izumi-Takaono and Yashiro (Japan).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys to identify additional breeding areas. Establish strictly protected areas in the Bikin river basin (Russia) and Suncheon Bay (South Korea). Expand the area or number of suitable wintering sites in Japan. Expand protected areas at Chongming Dao and Xinglong Dongsha (China). Enforce measures to minimise threats to wetlands in the lower Yangtze due to hydrological changes caused by the Three Gorges Dam. If the proposed outlet dam is constructed at Poyang Lake, operation of the dam should attempt to restore the natural hydrology; careful monitoring of cranes and their habitats will be needed and active mitigation measures implemented to ensure availability of foraging habitat (Harris and Zhuang 2010, J. Harris in litt. 2012). Prevent poisoning from pesticides and poaching. Establish local crane conservation groups in China.


100 cm. Small, dark crane. Darkish-grey body. White top of neck and head, except patch of bare red skin above eye. Similar spp. White-naped Crane G. vipio has grey sides of neck and extensive patch of red on sides of face around eye. Voice Loud, high-pitched calls.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Chan, S., Collar, N., Crosby, M., Gilroy, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J., Allinson, T, North, A., Martin, R

Yasuhiro, Y., Li, Z., Chan, S., Morris, P., Harris, J., Heim, W., Smirenski, S., Barter, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Grus monacha. Downloaded from on 25/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/09/2023.