In the End of July, the local breeding pairs and their offspring arrive at the gathering sites which are located every 20 to 50 kilometers throughout the distribution area. At first, the bachelors and the unsuccessful breeding pairs arrive, the pairs with offspring arrive later. In September, they are joined by migrating cranes form the northern and eastern breeding areas which take a rest in Germany.
One of the most important resting sites in Europe is located at the coast of the Baltic Sea in the Rügen-Bock region. Other large resting sites exist at the lower Oder, Mecklenburg´s lake district (e.g. Müritz and “Langenhägener Seewiesen”), Rhinluch and “Havelländischem Luch” (e.g.”Linumer Fischteiche”) and for some years in Upper Lusatia. In the south-east of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower-Saxony and Hesse there are more resting sites with up to a thousand cranes.
One or more sleeping sites are the centre of every gathering or resting site. They are located in wetlands with shallow water where the cranes stand for sleeping. During the day, the birds search for food, mostly on stubble fields. Between the end of October and the beginning of November, the cranes leave Central Europe. In warm winters, small groups stay in Germany.