Difference Between Crane And Heron

Crane and heron are two of the most commonly seen water birds across several countries across the world. They both belong to the same family of birds called Ardeidae; however, there are several differences between them. In this article, we will explore the key differences between crane and heron, and also compare them.

Differences between Crane and Heron:

1. Appearance

The first and most obvious difference between crane and heron is their appearance. Cranes are generally larger birds and have longer legs, necks and bills than herons. Their wingspan can range from 150 cm to 275 cm, while their height can range from 90 cm to 200 cm. Herons, on the other hand, are smaller birds with a wingspan that ranges from 100 cm to 180 cm and a height range of 75 cm to 130 cm.

2. Color

Another noticeable difference between crane and heron is their color. Cranes have grey, brown or white feathers, whereas herons have blue-grey, brown or white feathers. Some herons species have bright plumage on their head, neck or chest while cranes have uniform plumage.

3. Habitat

Both crane and heron are waterbirds. However, they have different habitats. Cranes prefer open grasslands, wetlands, and fields while Herons are commonly found in shallow waters such as marshes, mangroves, and mudflats.

4. Behavior

Cranes and herons have distinct behaviors as well. Cranes are social birds and can often be seen in groups or pairs. They have a unique courtship dance, where they can bow and jump in tandem. Herons, on the other hand, are solitary birds and tend to hunt alone. Their hunting strategy is to stand still or move slowly, waiting for their prey to swim into the range.

5. Diet

Cranes and herons have different diets. Cranes feed mainly on seeds, grasses and small animals such as insects, small fish, rodents, and reptiles, while herons feed mostly on fish, crustaceans like crabs and prawns, and other marine creatures.

Comparing Crane and Heron:

1. Flight

Cranes are known for their graceful and majestic flight, often covering long distances in a single flight. Herons have a distinct type of flight where they use slow and deep wingbeats.

2. Sound

Cranes and herons have different types of calls. Cranes have a distinctive trumpeting call while herons have a croaking call.

3. Size

Cranes are generally larger than herons, but some of the larger heron species such as the Goliath heron can be as large as some crane species.

4. Adaptability

Cranes are adaptable birds and can be found in several types of habitats ranging from wetlands to dry scrublands. Herons, on the other hand, are more adapted to water habitats and are more sensitive to adverse changes in the environment.


1. Are cranes and herons endangered?

Some species of cranes and herons are endangered mostly due to habitat loss, hunting, and climate change.

2. Do cranes and herons mate for life?

Most species of cranes and herons mate for life.

3. Are cranes and herons migratory birds?

Most species of cranes are migratory birds, while herons are generally non-migratory birds.

4. Are cranes and herons dangerous to humans?

Cranes and herons are generally not dangerous to humans, but some species of herons such as the black-crowned night heron can become aggressive when threatened.

In conclusion, Cranes and Herons are beautiful waterbirds, but they have several differences in appearance, habitat, behavior, and diet. Although they belong to the same family of birds, they have unique features that set them apart. Understanding the differences between these two birds can give us a better appreciation of the diversity of nature.