The Demoiselle Crane (pronounced dem-wah-zell), often referred to in literature as the Koonj (Koon-jay) crane is the smallest of all the crane species. It’s a migratory bird that breeds predominantly in central Eurasia and overwinters in northern Africa or the Indian subcontinent.
An elegant bird that stands 30 inches tall with an impressive 60-70 inch wingspan, the males and females present with nearly identical feathering. Their only remarkable difference is their size. Males are larger and weigh 6.5 pounds whereas females will be closer to 4.5 pounds.The adult plumage for both sexes is slate grey with long charcoal colored neck feathers and plumes of white feathers trailing down from behind the eyes on each side. Juveniles will share similar coloring but with much shorter feathers.
Like most cranes, the Demoiselle Cranes have a loud trumpet call and will display dancing behavior. Each pair will tend a two-egg nest together. Behavior is more aggressive during nesting and includes feigning injury to lure predators away from the nest. A successful nest will have 2 eggs and a 27-29 day incubation. The downy chicks will be grey with a pale brown head and will be dependent on parents. Chicks will fledge around 60 days and gain independence from their parents closer to 10 months.
Demoiselle Cranes are considered omnivores preferring the seeds of wetland grasses and grains but will forage on insects, worms, and small vertebrates.