African Crowned Crane

The crowned crane has a beautiful gray and white plumage with a crown of stiff, yellow feathers that covers the head giving this bird the look of a punk rocker. Known for their courtship rituals, the male and female crane perform an elaborate mating dance consisting of bobbing, flapping wings and swirling circles around each other. A mated pair will raise young together and are very protective of them—sometimes chasing zookeepers away! In folklore, cranes are believed to bring rain. They are often celebrated and included in rituals to bring on the rain.

African Crowned Crane

Balearica regulorum

Distribution: Wetlands and grasslands of eastern and southern Africa.

Diet in the Wild: Seeds, grains, insects, crabs and small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Grain, iceberg lettuce, egg, apple, mealworms and oyster shells

IUCN Red List Status: Endangered, population decreasing

Threats: Habitat loss, poaching of cranes and crane eggs

Interesting Facts:

The gray crowned crane is one of the few crane species that will nest in trees.

Gray crowned cranes time periods of breeding with the occurrence of rains. Peak breeding for crane populations in East Africa occurs during the dry season, while peak breeding for crane populations in the much drier regions of southern Africa occurs during periods of rain.

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