Black-Necked Cranes in the Phobjikha valley Bhutan
Tibet is home of 7000 to 8000 Black-Necked Cranes. This is around 70% of the world's total. Coming from one of the lakes of the high plateau in the Himalaya, attracted by the warm climate and abundant food, the Cranes spend the winter in river valleys. Some of them choose the Phobjikha valley in Bhutan for winter. The Cranes usually arrive end of October or begin of November. They return between end of February and early April.
During the day the Cranes are usually found in the wetlands and agriculture fields foraging for food (roots, tubers, potatoes, wheat, buckwheat, insects, snails, fish and rodents). At night, the Cranes roost in small shallow ponds along the river, which helps minimize attacks from predators.
In Bhutan, the gracious, beautiful and harmless Cranes are considered as heavenly birds. The arrival of the Cranes is a good omen. Their calls is a source of spiritual happiness. On each November 11 the local Black-Necked Crane festival takes place - to celebrate the significance of the Cranes for the valley.
In Phobjikha, the Cranes share their habitat with the local people. Balancing the needs for both is a challenge. Conservation of the wetland, watershed, and the current varieties of flora and fauna in the valley is required.
Loss and degradation of their habitats is the main threats the Black-Necked Cranes are facing. Visitors are advised to refrain from entering the wetland or approaching the Cranes.
A good resource for more information is the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) Black-Necked Crane Information Centre in the Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan, and the International Crane Foundation.
Images are courtesy of 加藤 元 Gen Kato (Japan), volunteer staff at the Black-Necked Crane visitor center in Phobjikha, Wangduephodrang, Bhutan.
The Black-Necked Crane in Phobjikha:
- height: 1.5 m
- wing span: 2 m
- weight: 5.3 kg
- tarsus: 23.2-24.7 cm
Video [12 MB] - Phobjikha valley Bhutan - Black-Necked Cranes - Roositing Area | courtesy of Gen Kato (Japan)
Video [27 MB] - Phobjikha valley Bhutan - Black-Necked Cranes - Mating Dance | courtesy of Gen Kato (Japan)
Video [36 MB] - Phobjikha valley Bhutan - Black-Necked Cranes - Cranes with juveniles foraging in a farm field | courtesy of Gen Kato (Japan)