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West African Crowned Crane

World of Cranes (Gruiformes)

Cranes are one of the oldest of all living things dating back millions of years.  In this WORLD, Cranes are represented by three species, considered tallest and most beautiful of all cranes.

Common Name:        West African Crowned Crane

Genus/Species:         Balearica pavonina pavonina


Western Africa in the Sahel and Sudan savanna region of Africa, from Senegal and Gambia on the Atlantic coast to the upper Nile River basin in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Natural Habitat:

Open landscapes such as extensive marshy areas, low moors, rifts, bogs, along the shores of lakes, ponds and grasslands near water.

Physical Appearance:

Physical appearance may slightly vary depending on geographic area. The West African Crowned Crane is about 1 m (3.3 ft) tall and weighs 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs).  Its body plumage is mainly black.  The wings are also predominantly white, but contain feathers with a range of colours.  The head has a crown of stiff golden feathers.  The sides of the face are white with a red patch, and there is a bright red inflatable throat pouch.  The bill is relatively short and black, and the legs are black.  The sexes are similar, although males tend to be slightly larger.  Young birds are greyer than adults, with a feathered buff face. 


The Breeding display involves dancing, bowing and jumping.  It has a booming call which involves inflation of the red gular sac.  It also makes a honking sound quite different from the trumpeting of other crane species.  The 2 to 5 pale bluish-green eggs are incubated for 28 to 31 days by both Female and Male in a nest made of grass and other plants in tall wetland vegetation. Both parents care for the young.  Flight stage is reached by the young after about 56 to 100 days depending on nutrition. Even within large flocks, the birds can be seen to move about in pairs, suggesting a prolonged pair bond.  Within such flocks, displays are not infrequent, and mutual preening, especially of the neck feathers, has also been observed.

STATUS in Natural Habitat:

Threatened to endangered in most parts of its habitat due to drainage, overgrazing and pesticide pollution.

Cool Fact:

One of the most beautiful of all cranes and the only crane which will roost in trees.  The spectacular dances performed by the adults are not strictly connected with reproductive behavior but are also an expression of joy.


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