- Latest common crane survey reveals a record-breaking 56 pairs of cranes in 2019, bringing the total population to an estimated 200 birds.
- Cranes became extinct in the UK around four hundred years ago but following the natural recolonisation of a few birds and extensive conservation work, including a reintroduction programme, these graceful birds are making a return.
- Cranes are the tallest bird in the UK, standing at 4ft. They are fabled for their dances; complex displays with bows, pirouettes and bobs, which take place every year between the male and female.
The crane was lost from the UK for nearly 400 years, but thanks to conservation efforts their population numbers have once again hit record levels.
These birds, the tallest in the UK at 4ft, used to be quite common. They were even frequent fixtures at medieval feasts – Henry II’s chefs cooked up 115 of them at his Christmas feast in 1251, but a combination of hunting and wetland decline led to their extinction in the 1600s.
In 1979, a small number of wild cranes returned to Norfolk and conservation groups have been working together to encourage more and more of these birds. They have now spread to other areas of the UK, benefitting from improved habitat such as at the RSPB’s Lakenheath and Nene Washes reserves as well as Natural England’s Humberhead Peatlands. Cranes recolonised Scotland in 2012 and Wales in 2016.