Found in the grassland and wetland areas of the eastern and southern regions of Africa, the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) is over 1 metre tall with a wingspan of 2 metres!
These beautiful birds have a grey body, white wings with feathers ranging from white to brown to gold and a head topped with stiff golden feathers.
The grey crowned crane loves to dance and relays on its impressive dance moves to attract a mate. Both males and females will dance for each other moving their feet, bowing, jumping and spreading their wings – showing off their plumage to their best advantage.
Once their dance moves have paid off and they have chosen a mate females will lay 2-3 eggs at a time. Grey crowned cranes like to share their parental duties, with both the male and the female helping to build the nest, incubating the egg and caring for their young. The chicks are ‘precocial’ which means they can run as soon as they hatch!
Grey Crowned Cranes have a long hind toe, making them one of only two species of crane (the other being the black crowned crane) that can perch and build nests in trees if they want – helping them to avoid predators on the ground.
They’re also omnivores, so they can eat both plants and animals. They aren’t picky eaters either and will spend most of their day foraging for food, feeding on anything from insects, lizards, amphibians, fish, grasses and seeds.
The grey crowned crane is listed as endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation in Nature) Red List. They’re protected by law in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya. There are also conservation projects in place to ensure their survival, with Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Botswana.
5 facts about the Grey Crowned Crane:
- They can flock in groups of between 30 and 150 birds.
- The Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda.
- They don’t tweet, they honk (very loudly!).
- Grey Crowned Cranes are non-migratory but do make seasonal movements.
- Females can lay 2-3 eggs at a time, which is the largest clutch of any species of crane.