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A photo of a Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)
Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane

Balearica regulorum

The Grey Crowned Crane, known scientifically as Balearica regulorum, stands as a majestic figure approximately 1 meter tall, with a wingspan stretching to 2 meters. This bird's plumage is predominantly grey, accented with a variety of colors on the wings and a striking black patch at the top. Its head is adorned with a crown of stiff golden feathers, setting it apart from its avian companions. The face is white, highlighted by a bright red inflatable throat pouch, and the bill is a modest grey. Black legs support its graceful frame, and its large, slender feet are designed for balance as it wades through grasslands.

Identification Tips

Observers should note the Grey Crowned Crane's unique combination of features: the golden crown, white face, red throat pouch, and the black patch on the wings. Males and females are similar in appearance, though males may be slightly larger. Juveniles present a greyer complexion with a feathered buff face.

Habitat

The Grey Crowned Crane favors the dry savannahs of Sub-Saharan Africa but is also comfortable in marshes, cultivated lands, and grassy flatlands near rivers and lakes.

Distribution

This species is widespread across eastern and southern Africa, with a presence from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, through Kenya, down to South Africa.

Behaviour

The Grey Crowned Crane is known for its elaborate breeding display, which includes dancing, bowing, and jumping. It is a social bird, often found in flocks ranging from 30 to 150 individuals.

Song & Calls

The crane's call is a distinctive booming sound, produced with the help of its red gular sac. It also emits a honking noise, quite unlike the trumpeting calls of other crane species.

Breeding

Breeding seasons are timed with the rains, varying by region. The Grey Crowned Crane builds a large nest in wetland vegetation, where it lays a clutch of 2-5 glossy, dirty-white eggs. Both parents share incubation duties over a period of 28–31 days. Chicks are precocial and fledge in 56–100 days.

Similar Species

The Grey Crowned Crane can be confused with the Black Crowned Crane, but the two can be differentiated by their calls, plumage, and genetic evidence.

Diet and Feeding

An omnivorous bird, the Grey Crowned Crane feeds on plants, seeds, grain, insects, frogs, worms, snakes, small fish, and eggs of aquatic animals. It employs a foot-stamping technique to flush out insects and often follows grazing herbivores to catch disturbed prey.

Conservation status

The Grey Crowned Crane is currently classified as Endangered, with an estimated global population between 58,000 and 77,000 individuals. It faces threats from habitat destruction, overgrazing, and pesticide pollution.

Symbolism

The Grey Crowned Crane holds a place of honor as the national bird of Uganda, gracing the country's flag and coat of arms.

Grey Crowned Crane Sounds



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Grey Crowned Crane Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda

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