The Black Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina ceciliae) is a rare bird native to the wetlands of eastern and western Africa. It is a subspecies of the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum).
The Black Crowned Crane has a black neck, and a white and pink naked (featherless) head. Its wings are mainly white. Its head has a crown of stiff golden feathers. Its cheeks are pinkish-white, and it has a pink throat pouch. Its beak is short and grey, and its legs are black.
It is about 100 centimetres (39 inches) tall, with a large wingspan of 200 centimetres (79 inches).
The Black Crowned Crane has long legs for wading through water grass, looking for food. It is omnivorous, eating plants, seeds, grain, insects, frogs, worms, snakes, small fish, and eggs.
The Black Crowned Crane and the Grey 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.
The Black Crowned Crane is 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 in tall grass. 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 have most of their feathers, and they can run as soon as they hatch. They get their full flying feathers within 56–100 days.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM