Blue Crane

(Grus paradisea)




Facts about this animal

The Blue Crane is a silvery bluish-grey crane with extremely long dangling tertials (wing feathers), nearly touching the ground. This tertials are often mistaken for tail feathers. It has a fully feathered head, which does not have patches of red skin as most other crane species. It is a relatively small crane, with a height of about 117 cm and a weight of 5.1 kg. The crown, forehead, lores and anterior cheeks are very light grey, sometimes almost white. The Posterior cheeks, ear coverts and nape are dark ashy grey, with feathers loose and lengthened ("cobra-like" profile). The feathers of the lower foreneck are elongated and pointed, the neck is bluish grey. Both upper and under parts are bluish grey. The wings are grey or bluish grey, blackish near the tip and the tail is blackish to black. The legs and feet are also grey or black. There is no marked sexual dimorphism.

Did you know?
that the blue crane is South Africa's national bird and appears on their 5c coin? There were also several South African postage stamps diplaying the blue crane.


Class AVES
Suborder GRUES
Name (Scientific) Grus paradisea
Name (English) Blue Crane
Name (French) Grue bleue, Grue de paradis
Name (German) Paradieskranich
Name (Spanish) Grulla azul, Grulla de paraíso
Local names Afrikaans: Veldpou
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II (as Grus paradisea) Included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka



Range Southern Africa
Habitat Short, dry, natural grasslands, pastures, cropland and fallow fields, only occasionally using wetlands
Wild population Approx. over 25,580 individuals (2007) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 163 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Blue Crane


How this animal should be transported

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


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The cranes are regarded as a threatened taxon which are key indicator species. The Blue Crane is a good species in particular to build capacity and expertise for application in the breeding of the more endangered Wattled Crane and others. Furthermore, the Blue Crane, South Africa's national bird, is one of the three crane species found in South Africa and it is therefore an important educational exhibit bird. It is also a striking crane and makes for an imposing exhibit.