Grey Crowned Crane

(Balearica regulorum)


Grey Crowned Crane IUCN ENDANGERED (EN)


Facts about this animal

The grey crowned crane is one of the smaller crane species standing about 100-110 cm tall. The sexes are alike except that the males are somewhat larger. This species is much lighter in colour than Balearica pavonina, its cousin from Western Africa.

It is a grey, crowned crane with large, red, pendulous wattles on the throat and almost fully white cheek patches. These patches and the forehead and forecrown are surrounded of black velvety feathers. The crown is straw yellow in colour. The feathers of the neck are pearly grey, becoming elongated and pointed toward the base of the neck. The upper and under parts are pearly grey. The primaries and one or two outermost secondaries of the wings are black. The next two or three secondaries are black on the inner webs and chestnut on the outer ones, the rest of the secondaries and tertials are maroon-chestnut. The tertials are a little broadened and elongated, and slightly degenerated. The wing coverts, and the alula white, the inner greater coverts are straw-coloured and composed of degenerated plumes. The tail is grey and the legs, feet and bill are black.

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.

Grey crowned cranes feed primarily on tips of grasses, seeds, insects, and other invertebrates, and small vertebrates. They also forage in croplands for groundnuts, soybeans, maize, and millet.

Did you know?
that the grey crowned crane is the national bird of Uganda and a sacred symbol in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia?


Class AVES
Suborder GRUES
Name (Scientific) Balearica regulorum
Name (English) Grey Crowned Crane
Name (French) Grue couronnée de Cap
Name (German) Kronenkranich
Name (Spanish) Grulla coronada cuelligris
Local names Afrikaans: Mahem
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Tom Tarrant



Range Southern and eastern Africa: Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Congo Dem., Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Vagrants may be encountered in Lesotho.
Habitat Wetland, grassland
Wild population Approx. 58'000-77'000 (2002)
Zoo population 835 reported to ISIS (2007).

In the Zoo

Grey 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
D. Gordon E. Robertson

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.