Cranes must be amongst the most elegant of birds, standing up to six foot tall; they are also some of the most endangered. Long-legged, long-necked wading birds with relatively short, but powerful beaks, they are found in wet grassland and shallow lakes throughout the world. They are omnivorous, eating everything from seed to frogs, and some species have adapted to foraging in agricultural fields. Most cranes do not start breeding until they are 3-5 years old, and most are monogamous for life. They have evolved elaborate courtship rituals often involving exuberant dances and some extremely loud calling (their windpipe is lengthened by coiling in the breastbone providing extra amplification).
Only the Common Crane occurs at all regularly in Britain. A few pairs nesting in east Norfolk maintain its tenuous foothold as a British breeding species.