The Grey Crowned Crane (26)
|The Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) is a bird in the crane family |
Gruidae. It occurs in dry savannah in Africa south of the Sahara, although
it nests in somewhat wetter habitats.
There are two subspecies. The East African B. r. gibbericeps (Crested Crane)
occurs from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo through Uganda and
Kenya to eastern South Africa. It has a larger area of bare red facial skin
above the white patch than the nominate B. r. regulorum (South African
Crowned Crane) which breeds from Angola south to South Africa.
This species and the closely related Black Crowned Crane are the only cranes
that can roost in trees, because of a long hind toe that can grasp branches.
This habit, amongst other things, is a reason why the relatively small
Balearica cranes are believed to closely resemble the ancestral members of
The Grey Crowned Crane has a breeding display involving dancing, bowing, and
jumping. It has a booming call which involves inflation of the red gular
sac. It also makes a honking sound quite different from the trumpeting of
other crane species.
The nest is a platform of grass and other plants in tall wetland vegetation.
The Grey Crowned Crane lays a clutch of 2-5 eggs. Incubation is performed by
both sexes and lasts 28-31 days. Chicks fledge at 56-100 days.
The Grey Crowned Crane is 116 cm tall and weighs 3.5 kg. Its body plumage is
mainly grey. The wings are also predominantly white, but contain feathers
with a range of colours. The head has a crown of stiff golden feathers. The
sides of the face are white, and there is a bright red inflatable throat
pouch. The bill is relatively short and grey, and the legs are black. The
sexes are similar, although males tend to be slightly larger. Young birds
are greyer than adults, with a feathered buff face. Like all cranes, it
feeds on insects, reptiles and small mammals.
Although the Grey Crowned Crane remains common over much of its range, it
faces threats to its habitat due to drainage, overgrazing, and pesticide
The Crested Crane is the national bird of Uganda and features in the
country's flag and coat of arms.