A chorus of resonating cries break the calm of the skies of the Landes. Above your heads, the great birds fly in formation, migrating to warmer climes. There is no possible doubt- autumn is here, and with it, the return of our common cranes.


Cranes - Arjuzanx nature reserve - Landes

Nearly 63,000 cranes spent winter 2011/2012 with us, making the Landes one of the most important wintering spots in Europe.
From October to February, you just have to look up to see the movements of these spectacular groups of birds as they cross the sky. You can also go along one day to watch the cranes leave from the top of the Arjuzanx bird-watching station- a unique spectacle punctuated with cries which pierce the moorland.


Since 1983, Arjuzanx nature reserve, the former mine turned National Reserve for Hunting and Wildlife, has become home to thousands of wintering cranes. There they have ideal conditions for their stay between mid October and mid March:
-    The maize fields (foraging ground) which provide them with food every day;
-    The very open wet areas, also called dormitories, where they can find the necessary tranquillity.

Each morning, the cranes leave the area to return to the maize fields, and then, at the end of the day, they return to the area and their dormitories. These huge group movements are magical to watch. Make the most of taking part in activities at the Arjuzanx site and learn more about this migratory bird.
There are ever more common cranes wintering in the Landes region, thereby avoiding crossing the Pyrenees.


Crane at Arjuzanx - Landes

Size: : 1,20 m
Wing span : 2 m
Average weight : 4 to 5 kg
Plumage : almost uniformly grey, shot through with white and black on the neck and the head, with a small bald, red area on the top of the head.
Not to be confused with the other birds you see above you- geese, grey heron and cormorants. In flight, cranes are characterised by holding their necks straight with their large legs trailing behind their body. Our nature guides will help you to identify them.
Characteristics : one of the largest protected birds in Europe.
Flight : flight in a V, or in formation, as part of an energy conservation strategy, but also for safety. These groups range from 20 to 200 birds.
The call of the common crane is a piercing, nasal "krou" which carries far (up to 4 km). What a din in the skies of the Landes!
Reproduction : din the nesting spots in Northern Europe. Pairs mate for life. In general, the female lays two eggs in a nest in the sun, surrounded by water.


Julie Lequime (CDT des Landes - Updated 22/03/2017)