The Crested Crane (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps) is a bird native to the wetlands of eastern and southern Africa. It is a subspecies of the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum).
Its body feathers are mainly grey, but its wings are mainly white with russet-brown feathers. Its head has a crown of stiff golden feathers. The sides of its face are white, and there is a bright red throat pouch. Its beak (bill) is short and grey, and its legs are black.
It is about 1 metre (3.3 feet) tall, and has a large wingspan of 2 metres (6.5 feet).
The Crested Crane has long legs for wading through water grasses, looking for food. They are omnivorous, eating plants, seeds, grain, insects, frogs, worms, snakes, small fish and eggs.
This species and the Black-Crowned Crane are the only cranes that can sit and sleep in trees, because they have a long hind (back) toe that can grasp branches.
They are often seen in pairs, and also in flocks of 30-150 birds.
Males and females dance and jump when they are courting. Male and female cranes make a large nest among tall grasses. Females lay a clutch of 2-5 eggs, which both males and females sit on until they are hatched 28–31 days later.
Chicks are precocial, which means that they can run as soon as they hatch. They get their flying feathers within 56–100 days.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM