Grey Crowned Crane

Not many birds can claim to be the national bird of more than one country, but the regal Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum can do just that. It is the official national bird of the east African countries of Tanzania and Uganda.

Grey Crowned Crane

Two subspecies are recognised, with the gibbericeps one occurring in southern Uganda and Kenya, northern Zimbabwe and northern Mozambique. The regulorum subspecies occurs in southern Angola, northern Namibia, Zimbabwe and eastern South Africa. The best spots to see this beautiful bird is in western Kenya, the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania and in the grasslands around the village of Wakkerstroom in eastern South Africa.

The Grey Crowned Crane is a large (112 cm/44 in and 3.5kg) grey crane with dark chestnut, black and white wings, a bristly, black-tipped golden crown and an otherwise white head with a small red throat wattle.
It might look slow, hunched and laboured when flying, but looks very regal when strutting its stuff searching for food in its preferred wet habitats like swamps, marshes, inundated grassland, moist agricultural fields and oxbow lagoons. They are normally found in flocks of 50 to 500, increasing the chance of flushing prey items like large insects, lizards, frogs, crabs and small rodents. They also eat plant material like bulbs and tubers.

The Grey Crowned Crane is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to loss of breeding habitat, poisoning and collisions with powerlines. The global population is decreasing, with a current estimate of only about 10,000 to 20,000 individuals.

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