Skip to content

Siberian Crane

Leucogeranus leucogeranus


This large white crane, with its elegant long legs and neck, stands at well over a metre in height.

A deep red mask covers the bird’s face from its bill to behind the eyes. This Critically Endangered bird is third rarest and the most threatened species of crane in the world. The species breeds in Russia and winters in China, Iran, and formerly in India, undertaking a 5,000 km migration through seven other countries. It is found in wetland habitats throughout the year along its migratory route and at wintering and breeding sites. It is highly dependent on wetlands and is the most aquatic member of the Gruidae family. Nests are large mounds, which are often partially submerged in shallow water. Illegal hunting in western/central Asia has contributed to the serious decline in numbers. Habitat loss, especially due to changing hydrology is the main threat to the eastern population. In recent decades, small populations of Siberian Cranes in West and Central Asia have almost disappeared; the only viable population of this species now occurs in eastern Asia, migrating 5,000 km from the Yakutian tundra of Russia across highly developed eastern China to winter at Poyang Lake in the mid Yangtze River Basin. The migration corridor is very narrow, so that almost all birds must stop to rest on a limited number of wetlands with hydrology that varies considerably from year to year due to rainfall and human activities.

  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Gruidae
  • Population: 3,500-4,000
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 140cm
  • Weight: 6kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.16 (?)
ED Score: 9.9 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species breeds in Yakutia and West Siberia in Russia. Non-breeders of the eastern population spend their summer months in the far north with a few birds summering in Dauria in areas along the border region of China, Russia and Mongolia. Ninety-nine percent of cranes spend the winter at Poyang Lake in China.

Habitat and Ecology

This species is found in wetland habitats throughout the year, favouring shallow, fresh water with a high level of clarity and have a low tolerance for human disturbance. They are omnivores, eating roots, seeds, sprouts and tubers of aquatic plants, and also fish, rodents, insects and various other small animals. The crane typically undertakes its annual migration at the end of September and it is thought to arrive at final wintering grounds in China and Iran in November or December. The cranes start the return journey in March or April, arriving at breeding grounds in late May.

Find out more

Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Urban development Industrial development Habitat change Crops Hunting Fishing Recreation Work Dams Agriculture

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at:

Otgontuya Batsuuri

  • Project name: Impact of climate and environmental changes on Siberian crane summering sites and it’s implication on conservation
  • Project site: Khurkh River Valley, Khentii Province, Mongolia
  • Active: 2019 - 2022
Find out more