East African Crowned Crane

ZOO LOCATION: African Rift Valley

Lifespan: Up to 40 years

Wild Diet: Mainly insects, grains, millipedes, earthworms, frogs and lizards

Zoo Diet: Grain, seeds, insects and vertebrates

Predators: Hyenas, lions, leopards and cheetahs


IUCN Status: Least Concern

Habitat/Range: Open country, especially grasslands, near water in southern and western Africa south of the Sahara.

Characteristics: Large terrestrial bird. Upper body slate gray. Wings white with black and chestnut coloring. Forehead black, velvety cushion with tuft of straw-colored bristle-like feathers on crown. Bare cheeks and neck wattles are white and red. Long legs and neck.

Behavior: Long legs and neck and excellent peripheral vision help spot predators in long grasses. Sedentary, making no long migrations. May spend many hours standing motionless on one leg. Loud, melodipis call. Usually in flight, has given rise to the belief that cranes bring rain.

Reproduction: Can be found in flocks of up to 100. Monogamous. Ritual mating dance (head-bobbing, wing fluttering, leaps and bows). Nest built in clumps of reeds, sedge or other grass like water plants. Nests are heaps of broken and interwoven twigs with hollow in the center. 2-4 pale blue eggs laid in massive nest. Incubation by both parents for 30 days. Chicks can run as soon as they hatch and can fly in 10 weeks. Mature after 5 years.

Conservation: Habitat is decreasing due to the draining of wetlands.