Black crowned crane

(Balearica pavonina)


Black crowned crane IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

The black crowned crane is one of the smaller crane species standing about 95-105 cm tall. This species is much darker in colour than Balearica regulorum, its cousin from SE and Southern Africa.

The black crowned crane has small red chin wattles and a bare cheek patch white above and a much larger lower portion pinkish to reddish. A large straw-yellow crown covers the top of the head. Feathers on the head are black, short and velvety. The neck feathers a re slate to dark grey becoming elongated and pointed towards the base of the neck. The plumage of the body, tail and wings is blackish, except for the wing coverts and alula, which are white. The legs and feet are black, the bill is black except for a horn-coloured tip in the nominate subspecies pavonina.

Crowned cranes occasionally roost in trees, a trait not seen in other cranes.

Crowned cranes build fairly bulky nests of vegetation in marshy areas, frequently surrounded by water. Both parents share the duties of nest building, incubating, and caring for the young. The normal clutch consists of two clear, pale blue eggs, which are incubated for 28-35 days. The hatchlings have a red-brown to greyish down plumage.

Black crowned cranes feed primarily on tips of grasses, seeds, insects, and other invertebrates, and small vertebrates. Seeds from agricultural crops are a most important food source.

Did you know?
that since 1985, when the black crowned crane was listed in Appendix II of CITES, more than 7000 live specimens have been recorded in international trade? In addition, there may be some illegal trade to destination countries, which are not Parties to CITES.


Class AVES
Suborder GRUES
Name (Scientific) Balearica pavonina
Name (English) Black crowned crane
Name (French) Grue couronnée
Name (German) Westafrikanischer Kronenkranich
Name (Spanish) Grulla coronada cuellinegra
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Andrea de Pilar Florez Cardenas



Range Subsaharan Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo?, Congo Dem., Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo. Vagrants may be encountered in Egypt and Uganda.
Habitat Grasslands, wetlands, savannas.
Wild population The eastern subspecies (B. p. ceciliae) is believed to be relatively stable and counts about 28,000-55,000 specimens. The western subspecies (B. p. pavonina) has declined in numbers to about 15,000 birds (Red List IUCN 2011)..
Zoo population 243 reported to ISIS (2007).

In the Zoo

Black crowned crane


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Andrea de Pilar Florez Cardenas

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Crowned Cranes are synonymous with the Savannas, wetlands and grasslands of Africa and are hence most often kept in exhibits with a number of other species which inhabit these same habitats. Presenting them is of educational interest and helps to highlight the plight of habitat degradation and loss, especially wetland.