Crane Bird is a large elegant bird, standing tall on long legs or forming a large silhouette in flight. Crane Bird is distinctive in shape, with a small head, short pointed bill, long neck, long legs and a cloak of loose tertial feathers, known as a bustle, hanging over the tail and wingtips. In flight it carries the neck outstretched and the broad wings are held rigid and flat, with a strong upstroke. The head and neck are black, with a discrete small red crown patch and a bold white band from the rear of the eye down the length of the neck. The remaining upperparts are ash-grey, often becoming stained with brown, and the flight feathers are black, visible at rest on the tip of the bustle.
Crane Bird breeds in bogs, damp moors, swampy clearings in forest and in reedbeds, wet areas such as pools or lakes, and always where undisturbed by humans. Migrates along narrow traditional flyways with regular stop-off points, and winters in open country around lakes or marshes, or on and around arable land.
The call of the Crane bird gives the bird its name in several languages, such as Grue in French or Daru in Hungarian. Crane Bird is a loud, far-carrying trumpeting sound that is variable in pitch and strength depending on the situation, and can be described as a "krrruuh", "krRRuuooh" or a more gutteral "krrraa". It is used as a contact call, in greeting or in excitement, and can be given singly or in a repeated sequence of notes. A pair will duet with a more musical alternating and repeated "krroo 'krree 'krroo 'krree" or "errkh'rr ekhrr'o" etc. Cranes in flight give similar notes, and when made by a flock these become a cacophony of differently pitched "krrruuh" notes running together. Young birds accompanying such flocks are also quite audible, making a plaintive high-pitched and slightly hoarse "peee-ee" or "cheeerp".