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Safari Africa Animal Fact Sheet
EAST AFRICAN CROWNED CRANE
Balearica regulorum gibbericeps

Range:
South-eastern Africa Males and females almost identical, but males can be slightly larger.

Social and gregarious during most of the year, moving about in flocks of up to a 100 and roosting in trees or riverbeds. Their long legs, neck, and excellent peripheral vision help them spot predators in the tall savannah grasses. Share feeding sites with other birds, but are quick to defend areas around their nests, sometimes chasing off animals as big as cattle.

Some Africans believe the cranes bring rain and others incorporate the crane's dance into their own rituals. There are 2 species of crowned cranes, and they are the only cranes able to perch in trees. They have a long, prehensile hind toe called a hallux that allows them to grasp tree limbs. The East African Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda.

Crowned cranes are monogamous and will pair for life if breeding is successful. Elaborate dances by both partners play an important role in pair formation and breeding, especially for young pairs. They bob heads up and down, bowing, spreading wings, leaping and flapping their wings, and then landing circling one another. Dance seems to be contagious- one pair starts, others in the flock start to dance. Can breed year-round. Nest is built of uprooted grasses and sedges piled into a circular platform, usually on ground, but sometimes in a tree. Will lay 2-3 bluish-white eggs. Incubation period is about 30 days, with both partners incubating in turn. Chicks are precocial, can run as soon as they hatch and can fly within 56-100 days. Juveniles stay with parents until next breeding season, then will join other independent juveniles.
Habitat: Wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural land
Diet: Omnivorous; eats plants, seeds, grain, insects, frogs, worms, snakes, small fish, and eggs of water animals
Status: Uncertain. Habitat loss due to agriculture growth.
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Height: 3-3.5 feet
Wingspan: 6-6.5 feet
Lifespan: About 22 years
Reproduction & Offspring: Sexual maturity at 3 years.

 

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