Difference Between A Crane And A Heron

When it comes to waterbirds, two of the most commonly compared species are cranes and herons. While both are majestic, tall and have long legs, they are actually quite different. Here, we’ll take a look at the differences between cranes and herons, and explore why these two species are often compared with each other.

What is a Crane?

Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds that belong to the family Gruidae. They are native to the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The most common crane species is the Sandhill crane, which is found in North America. They typically stand between 4 and 6 feet tall and weigh between 8 and 14 pounds. Their wingspan can exceed 7 feet.

Cranes are known for their striking appearance. They have long, slender necks, and long, thin legs. Their feathers are typically grey, white, or brown, and they often have red patches of skin on their head.

What is a Heron?

Heron, on the other hand, belong to the family Ardeidae. They are found all over the world, and there are around 64 different species of heron. Herons are also tall and long-legged, but are often smaller than cranes. The largest heron species is the Goliath Heron, which can grow up to 5.5 feet tall.

Herons are recognized by their unique beaks, which are pointed and dagger-like. They use their sharp beaks to catch fish, frogs, and other small animals. Herons also have long necks and legs, and are typically grey or brown in color.

Difference Between a Crane and a Heron

1. Appearance

Cranes and herons share similar features, but they also have some distinct differences. One of the most noticeable differences is their appearance. Cranes have rounder bodies with fuller feathers while herons have a slender body with less dense feathers.

2. Size

Cranes tend to be much larger than herons. For example, the Sandhill crane, which is the most common species, stands up to 4 feet tall whereas the largest Heron, Goliath Heron, only reaches 5.5 feet tall.

3. Beak

One of the most distinctive features of a heron is their pointed beak, which is used to catch prey. Crane, on the other hand, have a straight, pointed beak which they use to dig or pick up their food.

4. Habitat

Both cranes and herons live near the water, but their habitats differ. Herons are more commonly found in shallow wetlands, rivers, or lakes, while cranes are commonly found in open grasslands and forests.

5. Mating habits

Cranes are known for their mating rituals, which include elaborate dances and displays, whereas Herons generally mate for life and do not have any elaborate displays.


1. Can Cranes or Herons fly?

Yes, both craner and herons can fly.

2. Are cranes and herons hunted?

While hunting of these birds is prohibited, they are hunted for their feathers and meat.

3. What is the difference between a crane and a stork?

Cranes and storks are both long-legged and long-necked, but cranes have a more slender neck and longer legs than most stork species.


Cranes and herons may share some similarities, but they are unique and have very distinct differences. Whether you are a birdwatcher, photographer or just have an interest in these beautiful creatures, understanding these differences can make for a richer and more enjoyable experience.