The 15 recognized species of crane are categorized in three genera, Antigone, Balearica, and Grus. Unlike their similar-looking but very different herons, cranes normally fly with their necks outstretched; this is called a strutting posture.
The most familiar crane type is the golden eagle, which is a large and conspicuous bird with a thick neck and long wings. The crane has one eye that is highly placed and the other two are smaller and far back, allowing it to quickly move through the water and even to hover for a moment above the water. These birds are adept swimmers and their ability to glide gracefully over prey is one of the highlights of their agility. They have large feet and claws for walking on land and a pair of beaks that are lined with prickly spikes used to catch fish and invertebrates.
One of the most agile birds, the eared bowerbird also belongs to the family Earedbirds, with a stout bill and short wings. It is common in tropical rain forests and in Central America, as well as in some parts of South America and the Caribbean. The crane’s name comes from its tendency to flip its wings upside down when holding on to prey. This behavior, coupled with the fact that it preys mostly on birds of prey, has led to the great success of this particular species across many parts of its range.
The Giant Cuckoo is also known by the name of crane or crested bird. A bright red, black and white bird with a thick chest, which stands erect like a column, the Giant Cuckoo is as alert as any other bird of prey. It preys mostly on smaller birds like cockatoos and chickadees but has also been known to take small mammals, frogs and snakes. The Giant Cuckoo can be seen at dawn and dusk, making its way silently through the grass and underbrush on its way to foraging for food. These tall and sturdy birds are excellent swimmers and can cruise along the surface of lakes, rivers and streams for days without losing energy or having to rest.
The masked feeding crane also belongs to the family of birds that prey upon small animals, including rodents, lizards, snakes and insects. It is generally small in size with a stout body and short wings. It is an active hunter and catches its prey unawares. Like other crane types, it is a frequent visitor to bird feeders and bird baths. As it preys mostly on small animals, its droppings have been found to contain more protein than any other bird’s droppings.
The masked feeding habits of these birds may be attributed to the fact that they are good swimmers and also able to glide gracefully over the surface of the water. They have a long and elegant beak and are relatively fast swimmers. These birds are highly adept at catching prey by surprise. They even have a special type of lure, which they use to lure fish. Masked feeding frenzy starts when they find any kind of prey moving quickly. They dive down to grab their prey with their claws and talons and strip it away with little twigs and gut.
Crows, Cards, and Ravens are larger varieties of these birds and their name connotes eating quickly. They are great hunters as they are capable of hunting both prey and birds. They even use their beaks to catch food. They have talons and powerful claws that enable them to crack the tough flesh of their prey and tear it apart before eating.