Demoiselle cranes are one of the smallest crane species. They have a black head, neck and breast with a pale grey back. Their wings are pale grey with black primary feathers at the edges. They also have two white stripes along their heads made up of longer plumes. The legs are black and the beak is grey with an orange tip. Young birds are duller in colouration.
Demoiselle cranes have a low pitched rasping voice. They have a wide range of calls for communication ranging from contact and location calls to the calls involved in courtship. Visual communication is also important with a dance being an important part of the courtship routine.
The breeding season for the demoiselle crane is between April and May. Nests can be made of grass but often eggs are laid straight onto the ground. The chicks are yellow and brown in colour and take 55 to 65 days to fledge, the shortest period of any crane species.
The diet of the demoiselle crane is mainly made up of grass seeds. Insects, particularly beetles, are also important in summer and small animals will also be eaten opportunistically. Demoiselle cranes will often gather in large flocks and they will visit cereal and vegetable crops, often causing a lot of damage.
Demoiselle cranes are classed as Least Concern as their population is high and their range wide. However, they are threatened by habitat loss throughout their range and they are hunted for sport, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.