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Tancho - Red Crowned Cranes

Tancho - Red Crowned Cranes
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-01-15
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon EF 300mm f2.8 USM IS
Exposure: f/8, 1/1000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Gruiformes (Turnalar, Crane-like), Wildlife of Japan, TN Favourites [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-01-24 6:47
Viewed: 14262
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 62
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
One of my reasons for visiting Japan at this time of year was to see the Red Crowned Cranes or Tanchos in NE Hokkaido, near the city of Kushiro. The day was freezing - max -7C! As you can see there are some problems photgraphing them not only are they black and white birds - but so is the background!!

This is one of the sites where farmers started feeding them after the Second World War, when the Japanese population was on the verge of extiction.

Hand-held with 300mm + 1.4X converter.

The Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis), also called the Japanese Crane or Manchurian Crane, is a large crane and is the second or third rarest crane in the world. In East Asia, it is known as a symbol of luck and fidelity. At 140 cm (55 inches) high, the crane does not make easy prey, for all that it stands out in its natural habitat of marshes and swamps. When it matures, the Red-crowned Crane is snow white with a patch of red skin on its head. This patch of skin becomes bright red when the crane becomes angry or excited. The heaviest crane on record is a male Red-crowned Crane weighing 15 kg (33 lbs.), although large Sarus Cranes are taller.

Red-crowned Cranes are the only crane species that have white primary feathers. Adult forehead and crown are covered with bare red skin, and a large white band extends from behind the eyes and meets sharply with the black lower neck. The majority of the body is pure white with the exception of black secondary and tertiary feathers. Eyes are black and legs are slaty to grayish black. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable, although males tend to be slightly larger in size.

Juveniles are a combination of white, partly tawny, cinnamon brown, and/ or grayish plumage. The neck collar is grayish to coffee brown, the secondaries are dull black and brown, and the crown and forehead are covered with gray and tawny feathers. The legs and bill are similar to those of adults, but lighter in color. The primaries are white, tipped with black, as are the upper primary coverts. At two years of age the primaries are replaced with all white feathers.


Red-crowned Cranes breed in large wetlands in temperate East Asia and winter along rivers and in coastal and freshwater marshes in Japan, China, and the Korean Peninsula. There are two main breeding populations: a migratory population on the East Asia mainland (northeastern China and Russia) of perhaps 1,200 birds, and a resident population on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan of about 900 birds. In the winter, the mainland population divides into two or three wintering subpopulations. The total population has fluctuated over the last century, probably reaching its lowest point in the years following World War II. Although the species has recovered in some areas, a substantial amount of habitat has been lost to agricultural development and other human activities.

Habitat & Ecology:

Red-crowned Cranes are highly aquatic cranes with large home ranges. They feed in deeper water than other cranes. They also forage regularly on pasturelands in Japan, and in winter they use coastal salt marshes, rivers, freshwater marshes, rice paddies, and cultivated fields. Red-crowned Cranes prefer to nest in marshes with relatively deep water and standing dead vegetation. Red-crowned Cranes are well adapted to cold temperatures.

Mated pairs of cranes, including Red-crowned Cranes, engage in unison calling, which is a complex and extended series of coordinated calls. The birds stand in a specific posture, usually with their heads thrown back and beaks skyward during the display. The male always lifts up his wings over his back during the unison call while the female keeps her wings folded at her sides. Male Red-crowned Cranes initiate the display and the female utters two calls for each male call. All cranes engage in dancing, which includes various behaviors such as bowing, jumping, running, stick or grass tossing, and wing flapping. Dancing can occur at any age and is commonly associated with courtship, however, it is generally believed to be a normal part of motor development for crane s and can serve to thwart aggression, relieve tension, and strengthen the pair bond. Red-crowned Cranes seem to dance more than other species of cranes.

Nests are built on wet ground or in shallow water. Females usually lay two eggs and incubation (by both sexes) lasts 29-34 days. The male takes the primary role in defending the nest against possible danger. Chicks fledge (first flight) at about 95 days.

rundive, haraprasan, Argus, uleko, fartash, pvs, spalaxtr, cataclysta, earthtraveler, SelenE, bobcat08, nglen, Necipp, eqshannon, rousettus, NinaM, K9madtex, Adanac, tosh0329, angybone, degani, rishabh6296 has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To arfer: Lovely warm dayJamesp 1 01-25 23:25
To K9madtex: MonitorsJamesp 1 01-25 10:09
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi James,
very beautiful and amazing picture... You catch very well this moment of bird's life.
Great job. Exposure is perfect.


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-01-24 7:31]

Hello James,
Fine capture of this rare species of Crane, the Red-crowned. I like the typical crane pose as they hoot to each other and the sharpness and light management is excellent. This is a fine contribution to TN - probably a first of this species.
Thanks for sharing this one,

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-01-24 7:44]

Hello James,
Considering the b/w background this is a brilliant capture of these Red-crowned Cranes. You've caught these two in a lovely pose, the light is good, sharpness excellent and the red crowns really stand out on some of them. Very well composed too.
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

Hello James
Wonderful shot of these Red Crowned Cranes,
Perfect focusing,colors and BG,Superb shot.
Welldone my friend.

Good luck

Nice effort, your travel to Japan is realy successful. You got such wonderful shot of Red crowned caranes.Congratulatuons and best regards. Nadeem Khawar.

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2008-01-24 8:06]

Hi James,

Despite the difficult BG,you managed to lift up those cranes perfectly,very nice capture of this for me unknown crane,excellent camerawork


Hi James,
Great pose with very good action of two birds in the front. Well done, TFS,

Hi James
I like it. Every day different place and even different continents. You are a lucky man :-)
Another great shot in your collection. Looks fascinating and almos unreal with this snow
As always good note
Best wishes

Hi James,
fine shot of these cranes. You did very well with the difficult contrast situation. The whites show detail and the blacks seen well on the black BG. Good moment also along with the fine note. TFS

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-01-24 8:42]

Hi James,
what amazing looking birds, very elegant. Your timing here is excellent, as is your work with the exposure too, doesn't look easy but you pulled it off. Perfect DOF and i like the central composition, the other birds around this pair keeping it from becoming too symmetrical. Well done and thanks for sharing.

nice pic, TFS Ori

Hello James,

Very well done with such a lens and then handheld!!! Chapeau. A good composition and a perfect timing. Magnificent colors and contrast. THIS IS A BRILLIANT CAPTURE. Interesting notes. Greetings and TFS BOB

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-01-24 12:05]

Hi James . Worth the cold i would think. you have captured a fine pose with the two main Crane. good detail .as you say not that easy with all the Black and whites. but you have done so well. TFS.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-01-24 13:45]

You almost need the BG to be reversed! White at the top and black at the bottom to contrast with the B+W of the Cranes however you have done exceedingly well to get a clear image of these ungainly birds :)
Excellent sharpness and clarity.
Great composition and the low-down POV is really effective.
Superb exposure.
Well done James,

Hello James wow! this is so perfectly timed. Nice exposure considering the Dynamic range needed. the little bit of strong red colour on the heads is excellent focal points on a mostly black and white scene. TFS Rgds Necip

Kewl image James...It looks almost like a diorama with good lighting! The composition has a Bob quality to it...I like the many more than the single sometimes!

Hello James
After famous japanese macacas, another famous animal from Japan: famous Japenese Crane. Your presentation excellent. I like very much. Especially your focus on two birds in the front perfect, when they dancing. You present white parts of cranes greatly ,in spite of white snow. Semidark BG very nice for contrast. shortly great work and notes. Thanks
best wishes

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-01-24 16:51]

Hi James, what a fantastic shot. You are right, the black heads of the cranes with the dark background isn't an easy task to photograph but you managed with great art. It is stunning and so beautiful. I love that picture and wish I was there with you to look at them! Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with us, it is greatly appreciated.


Great shot. What a rare opportunity. I have only ever seen them in Asian art. The black necks stand out just fine from the BG on my monitor, however when I looked at this photo at work, it was very dark. Yes I was browsing TN at work ;) anyway I guess it just the difference in monitors. Great job.

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-01-24 18:44]

Hello James,
A brilliant black and white, color image boy thats strange. But the quality of this image is anything but strange its superb.

Hello James,
Awesome shot with these beautiful cranes!
perfect exposure and focus in the shot!
thanks for the informative notes

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-01-25 1:06]

Hi James,
I think you managed the exposure really well here. It's a beautiful capture of the red crowned cranes. Well done and TFS
Best wishes,

Hi James,
A beautiful capture of these red crowned cranes. Well composed shot with excellent details and good but difficult exposure. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hi James,
I can imagine the song of Tancho and the atmosphere from your picture. I've been to Kushiro to take pic of Tancho and seaeagle about 6 years ago. Since then I'd like to go there every year, but I can't go for business. Beautiful shot, I like it.
Greeting from Japan, Toshi

What an amazing graceful dance you presented. As usual, technically perfect!

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-01-25 20:30]
  • [+]

Hello James

Sounds like a lovely warm Winter day to me .LOL
The exposure is very good,and the whites show well against the snow.
Very good colours and lighting.
The shot is well composed and balanced,these two look prepared to dance.


  • Great 
  • degani Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 130 W: 0 N: 322] (2607)
  • [2008-01-25 23:27]

Hi James,
I think that this is a very well composed picture, with bright and natural colours, even if the snow is a difficul subject to reproduce in pictures, you did it very well, bravissimo

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-01-26 1:32]

Hello James,
You were there on the right time. Great moment!Excellent photo in a good timing. Good colours, DOF and sharpness.

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-01-26 6:56]

Hello James, great shot even in difficult conditions. Great moment of interaction, very good sharpness and the exposure is well doen, thanks !


Hi James,
excellent composition,well done.

Hi James,
Wow !! Beauty, this is wild life photo art at its best. TFS

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