(Grus rubicunda)




Facts about this animal

The Brolga has a light bluish-grey body plumage and blackish wing feathers. They have a featherless red head, a grey crown and a black dewlap under the chin. Legs and toes are grey to black. Males and females are alike in appearance, but males tend to be slightly larger in size. They stand 0.7 to 1.3 m tall, with an average 6 kg in weight and a wing span of 1.7 to 2.4 m.

Brolgas live in large flocks, sometimes as large as 1000 birds. Each family group in the flock is lead by a male. Brolgas form lifelong breeding pairs.

In southern Australia, brolgas breed from September to December, and some months later in the north. The elaborate courtship displays involve much dancing, leaping, wing-flapping and loud trumpeting. A territory is established, which is vigorously defended by both partners and a nest is built, which is a large mound of vegetation on a small island in a shallow waterway or swamp. The usually two eggs, which are white blotched with brown and purple, are incubated for about 32 days by both parents.

Brolgas feed on sedge tubers, which they excavate, wetland plants, upland plants and grains, insects, molluscs, crustaceans, frogs and other small vertebrates.

Did you know?
that Brolgas are the only crane species to have a gland in the corner of their eyes which helps to pass excessive salt? and that an aboriginal legend tells of a beautiful young woman who always danced instead of working? She was turned into a tall, slender bird. Her name was Bralgah. The complicated dance of the brolga is imitated by the Aborigines in some of their dances.


Class AVES
Suborder GRUES
Name (Scientific) Grus rubicunda
Name (English) Brolga
Name (French) Grue brolga
Name (German) Brolgakranich
Name (Spanish) Grulla brolga
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed (non-migratory)



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Range Mainly throughout northern and eastern Australia and as far south as Victoria, but also in Indonesia and southern New Guinea. They are found as rare vagrants in New Zealand and Russia. They are non-migratory, but do move in response to seasonal rains.
Habitat They are found in coastal freshwater wetlands, freshwater and brackish marshes, wet meadows, and other seasonal wetlands. Of the fifteen species of cranes, the Brolga is perhaps the most opportunistic and variable in terms of habitat selection.
Wild population <10,000 mature individuals (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 40 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo



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
Paul Thomsen

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Brolga is not a threatened species. Zoos keep it primarily for educational reasons and as an ambassador species for wetland and grassland conservation. Outside the region of origin, only few zoos keep the Brolga, which is very similar to the Sarus crane.