East Africa from northern Uganda and Kenya south to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.
This species of bird prefers wetlands with nearby grasslands and cultivated land near rivers and lakes.
- Crowned cranes stand 44-48 inches (112-122 cm) tall; males are slightly taller on average.
- They weigh six to eight pounds (3-4 kg).
- They have a wingspan of six and a half feet (2 m).
- They have slate grey feathers on their body. Wings are white with black and chestnut coloring.
- These birds are named for the distinctive, bristle-like, golden feathers on top of their black head.
- They have a bright red patch above white cheeks and a red neck wattle.
- Their long legs and beak are black.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: Seeds, plants, grain, insects, worms, frogs, lizards, small fish and eggs. They forage on agricultural land.
At the zoo: Nutritional crane pellets and assorted greens.
What Eats It?
African predators including hyenas, lions, leopards and cheetahs.
Crowned cranes are social and gregarious birds living in flocks of up to 200 birds during most of the year. During breeding season, mated pairs establish and defend a nesting territory using their loud calls to warn other birds away.
Like other cranes, East African crowned cranes are monogamous and pair for life. During breeding season, both males and females participate in graceful and elaborate mating dances. Once paired, mated couples build a large circular nest, made of grasses and vegetation, in a secluded area of marshy ground. The female lays up to four bluish-white eggs, and both parents incubate the eggs; females incubate at night and males during the day. The eggs hatch after 28-31 days. Crane chicks are well developed when they hatch and within a few hours can follow the parent birds around learning how to forage for food. The chicks develop flight feathers at two to four months but after fledging stay with their parents for eight to ten months, until the next breeding season. After leaving their parents, young birds gather with other juveniles and move to new foraging and roosting sites. By 18 months the young have developed adult plumage and begin practicing threat displays and mating dances. East African crowned cranes are fully mature by two to three years of age; these birds can live 20-40 years.