There are two subspecies. The East African (crested crane) occurs in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Uganda, of which it is the national bird represented in its national flag, and Kenya to eastern South Africa. It has a larger area of bare red facial skin above the white patch than the smaller nominate species, (South African crowned crane), which breeds from Angola south to South Africa.
The Physical Description
A Grey Crowned Crane is a tall bird measuring about 1 m and a body weight of about 3- 4 kg. They have a large wingspan which measures between 180cm to 200 cm wide, the body is largely covered grey fur but the wings are mainly white and the feathers have a variety of colors. The head is crowned, the crown is made up of still golden feathers. Both sides of the face have a white but have an area of bare red facial skin just above the white patch and in east African specie, this red appears bigger than in the other.
Around the neck region is that bright red inflatable kind of throat pouch. They have fairly short beaks, the legs are long to help them wade well through the tall grass, they are grey and black in color and the feet are large enough to help them balance. In terms of sex, they all appear similar and the main way you can ever differentiate them is by size because the males are often larger than the female ones.
These birds are usually seen walking in pairs of a male and female, this is probably because they mate for all their life span. A pair will define their own territory since they are so territorial by nature, they can mean to be very aggressive especially when they are defending their own territory or their little ones. These Crane are found both on land in trees and that
The Crane is definitely an object of great beauty. It is a tall bird standing well over three feet, on long-slender black legs. Its neck is almost as long as its legs and towards the base, pointed pearl-grey feathers are elongated to form an ornamental fringe.
The tail feathers, comparatively short, are the colour of dried straw. When at rest, the Crowned Crane seems to be enveloped in a cape of exquisite delicacy with its multi-coloured head where the three colours of the Uganda’s Flag (Black, Yellow, Red) seem to be represented. The conspicuous velvety black forehead, yellowish crest and the vivid bright red wattles, make the Crested Crane an elegant creature, befitting its emblematic role.
The grey crowned crane is about 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, weighs 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs), and has a wingspan of 2 m (6.5 ft). Its body plumage is mainly grey. The wings are predominantly white, but contain feathers with a range of colours, with a distinctive black patch at the very top. 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. They have long legs for wading through the grasses. The feet are large, yet slender, adapted for balance rather than defence or grasping. The sexes are similar, although males tend to be slightly larger. Young birds are greyer than adults, with a feathered buff face.
This species and the black-crowned crane are the only cranes that can roost in trees, because of a long hind toe that can grasp branches. This trait is assumed to be an ancestral trait among
The Grey Crested Crane Habitat
These birds are only found in quite dry regions like the dry savanna although when they are setting up their nests, they still choose the rather wetter place to be their habitats. They are commonly found in the dry savannah regions of Africa in the south of the Sahara desert, in countries like the DR. Congo, in Uganda, in Kenya, the eastern and southern parts of South Africa and in south of Angola.
applies to the east African crested crane species and the South African crowned crane respectively.
This bird has got a booming call used in their communication and it entails inflation of the red sac. They also make a unique honking sound which is very different from that one from the trumpeting made by the other crane species
the cranes, which has been lost in the other subfamily. Crowned cranes also lack a coiled trachea and have loose plumage compared to the other cranes.
It walks with grace and serenity, as though the life of the country it symbolises, depends on its every step. The Crested Crane – chosen as Uganda’s Crest (national symbol) nearly 100 years ago, is one of the most cherished birds in the country.
The Grey Crowned Crane, scientifically known as Balearica regulorum gibbericeps, inhabited Uganda’s swamps and fields long before the coming of tribes in our territory.
The unusual gracefulness of the Crowned Crane, aptly typifying the country and its people, attracted then Governor of Uganda -Sir Frederick Jackson who, in 1893, chose it to embellish the Union Jack with its exquisite form and heraldic dignity.
Sir Frederick was a famous ornithologist who surrounded himself with the beautiful cranes at the government House in Entebbe which he could feed from his own hands.
To the many different tribes of Africa, the call of the Crowned Crane suggests many word variations and the sounds are varied and full. Thus to a Muganda the call is Ng’aali; to a Swahili M’waari; to an Acholi, O’welo; to Zulu of South Africa, the sound is Maahem and the same sound is Muraaho to a Munyarwanda.
Different tribes and people have learnt through time how to interact with the Crane, and in most areas, the Crane helps to tell people the time of the day through their calls which are done at specific times of the day. They are regarded as the birds of joy and relaxation in most parts of the country. For instance, when people clap and sing a particular song, the Cranes dance by nodding their heads. This happens in all places where Cranes exist.
Crowned Cranes are known to breed in swamps but a combination of increasing human population and improved agricultural techniques is leading people to drain swamps often to grow rice in eastern Uganda, dairy farming and vegetable cultivation in south western Uganda. Eastern and south-western Uganda are the major critical areas for the survival of the Crane.
The level of human activity in swamps influences the ability of Cranes to care for the young and successful breeding. The loss of habitat, therefore, combined with the species low reproductive rate and frequent capture of young, raises concern about the Crane’s survival.
Since there are few tamed Cranes, one raises a question as to what happens to the many chicks that are captured. Many young die because of poor handling but those that survive are eventually sold.
Maturity, Breeding, Reproduction and Lifespan
They mature at 3 years and they breed all year round but it is normally between December to February as they respond to change in the weather from the dry to rain season. They are monogamous and once they are ready they display behavior that help to attract a mate for example they dancing, they bow and also jump.
They lay 2-5 eggs that that they keep in the nests. Their nests built on a flat and circular platform using the grass and some other available plants like the reeds found in the wetland but can be any other kind of grassland vegetation. In each nest built they leave 2-3 eggs. They frequently chose to use those ground nests that have been abandoned by other birds which are as large as they are.
During the incubation process, both the male and female will do the incubation which takes 28-31 days. As soon as they are hatched, they can fly and after 2 or 3 months they can fledge but they will stay with the parents especially the mother for about 9 months. In terms of color, the chicks are usually greyer than the grownups, they have that feathered buff face and start to live a life as their parents live once they are 3 years old.
Crowned Crane have got a life span of 50 – 60 years throughout which they will give birth to as many times as possible.
The Grey Crowned Cranes are referred to as Grue royale in French, in Italian they are called the Gru coronata grigia and Grijze kroonkraan in Dutch as well as Südafrika-Kronenkranich in the German language.
Their Diet and Predators
Just like the rest of the cranes, they feeds on plants, seeds and grains, insects, frogs, small reptiles, worms, small fish, small mammals and eggs of aquatic animals and young notably aquatic animals. When they are hunting for food, they stamp their feet hard enough to flush out the insects and small animals from their hiding places. This is a special technique that they developed in order to get as much as food as possible.
They spend a lot time during the day looking around for food and then in the night, they go back to their nests ate sleep.
These birds are also commonly seen among herds of live stock as they graze and any other herd of herbivores and gain a sense of security while they are among these big animals. Main predators like the Hyenas, lions and even human would rather go for the antelopes and gazelles than a bird at that moment.
It occurs in dry savannah in Africa south of the Sahara, although it nests in somewhat wetter habitats. They can also be found in marshes, cultivated lands and grassy flatlands near rivers and lakes in Uganda and Kenya and as far south as South Africa. This animal does not have set migration patterns, and birds nearer the tropics are typically sedentary. Birds in more arid areas, particularly Namibia, make localised seasonal movements during drier periods.