East African Crowned Crane
|Scientific name||Balearica regulorum gibbericeps|
|Height||3.5 feet (106 cm)|
|Wing span||up to 6.5 feet (198 cm)|
|Weight||6.5-8.7 pounds (3-4 kg)|
|Life span||25 years|
|Number of eggs||2 or 3 days|
|Age of maturity||3 years|
An African aviator
Crowned cranes live in southeastern Africa, including Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. They stay in dry or wet open areas including grasslands and marshes, and they nest in open trees with a good view along rivers.
On the menu
In the wild, these cranes eat grasses, grain, insects, frogs, crab, and lizards. At the zoo, they eat grain and forage for insects in their exhibit insects.
Not your average crane
The golden crown of feathers atop the east African crowned crane’s head is not the only thing that distinguishes it from other cranes. It also has a shorter bill than other cranes, which allows it to feed on a wide range of foods. Their bodies are generally dark grey with a paler neck and underbody. The face has a black patch on the forehead and red and white patches on the cheek. There is also an easily identifiable yellow tuft of bristle-like feathers on top of the head.
A hard day’s work
These cranes leave their roost around dawn, feed during the day, and return again at nightfall. They spend about 50-75% of their time foraging for food. They are least active during the hot midday hours and rest near water. Unlike other cranes, crowned cranes perch and roost in trees, with the aid of a well-developed hind toe. Crowned cranes nest in pairs, but often flock together and roost communally at night, sometimes building flocks of over 100 birds.
In a family way
Crowned cranes are monogamous and stay together throughout the year or even for life if breeding is successful. They can breed all year round. The nest is made in shallow water or on marshy ground. During the breeding season the female lays 2 to 3 eggs which both parents incubate for approximately 4 weeks. The chicks can run as soon as they are hatched and can fly within 10 weeks. Both parents feed the young until they leave the nest.