Maturing at three to four years, hooded cranes move to the breeding grounds in pairs or small flocks between April and May (8). Here, they perform a courtship display, throwing back the head and lifting the beak vertically. Males initiate the display, holding their wings above their backs. Males and females call in unison for some time, with males calling just once for every two female calls. Many crane species engage in the display simultaneously, during which new pairs are formed and old bonds strengthened. Pairs then construct a nest of damp moss, peat, branches, and sedge stalks and leaves. Two eggs are laid by the female and incubated by both sexes for 27 to 30 days. The male defends the nest throughout this time when not incubating. The chicks fledge after 75 days (3) and by August the hooded cranes leave the breeding grounds in family groups. In some areas the hooded crane produces hybrids with the common crane (Grus grus) (8).
The hooded crane eats plants, berries, insects, frogs, roots, seeds and grass. During the winter, 80 percent of the population feeds at the special artificial feeding station in Izumi, Japan, where they are fed cereal grains. As in all cranes species, the white-naped crane is active and is often seen ‘dancing’: flapping the wings, tossing grass and sticks, jumping, running and bowing. As well as being involved in courtship, this is thought to reduce aggression and relieve tension (3).