Africa's Beautiful Crowned Cranes
The Grey-crowned crane and the Black-crowned crane live in Africa. They are very large and beautiful birds.
The Gray-crowned Crane
The Gray Crowned crane makes its home in many areas of Africa. They spend a lot of time in marshes, rivers, floodplains and savannas that are near water. They are also called the East African Crowned Crane.
The Gray Crowned crane has a body that is mostly gray. Their gray wings will have a yellow band streaked with white. They have lighter gray feathers on their neck and they will have a crown of black- tipped yellow feathers on their head. Their cheek is red on the top and has a white spot on the bottom. The rest of their face is black. They have a gray bill that is short. Their legs are gray. They have a red inflatable gular sack at the bottom of their chin.
The Gray Crowned crane is almost 3 and a half feet tall and weighs almost 8 pounds. They have a 6.5 foot wingspan. They female is smaller than the male.
The Gray Crowned Crane will roost in trees which is unusual for cranes. They are able to do this because they have a prehensile hind toe that they use to grasp the branches.
The Gray Crowned crane will usually live 22 years in the wild. They have been known to live 60 years in captivity.
The Gray Crowned crane will breed year around. The main breeding is done from December to February. They will mate for life. They will do a courting dance to impress their mate. Both the male and female will inflate their gular sack.
The Gray Crowned crane prefers to build their nest near water. Their nest is a platform of vegetation and it will be 50 to 61cm in diameter. The female usually lays 2 to 3 eggs that will hatch in 26 to 30 days. When the chicks are 12 hours old they are able to float and swim. They will start eating when they are 1 day old. When they are 2 days old they will go with their parents to look for food. The chicks will stay in the marshlands where they can hide. When the chicks are 56 to 100 days old they will fledge but they are not considered mature until they are 3 years old. After fledging the chicks will go to a juvenile flock until they mature.
The Gray Crowned crane lives in a flock made up of 30 to 150 birds. They do not migrate but, they do move around looking for food and water.
The Gray Crowned crane protects its self from predators by perching in trees. They are sometimes attacked by domestic dogs.
The Gray Crowned crane is on Uganda's flag and coat of arms. They are the country's national bird.
The Black-crowned Crane
The Black-crowned Cranes make their home in Saharan Africa. The Black-crowned crane is also called the West African Crowned crane. They like to live in marshy areas, moors, rifts, and bogs. They also like shores of lakes, ponds, and grasslands that are near water.
The Black-crowned crane is a beautiful bird that has a body that is mainly black. Their wings have white and gold on them. Their face has white and red patches on it. They also have a gular pouch that is not very big. They have a gold crown on their head. They have black legs and feet. They are around 3.5 feet tall and will weigh just under 8 pounds.
The Black-crowned crane will breed during the wet season, which is from May through December. They will usually nest near water. They use rushes and grass to build their nest. The male and female will take turns sitting on the eggs until they hatch in 28 to 31 days. In 56 to 100 days the chicks will start to fly. The cranes live in flocks, but usually move around in pairs.
The Black-crowned crane will eat almost anything such as seeds, fruit, insects, snails, lizards, crabs, and snakes. If it will fit in their mouth, they will eat it.
The Turkana natives of Kenya think of the Black-crowned crane as messengers of peace The natives think the Black-crowned crane gets rid of pests on their livestock. They also believe the cranes protect the swamps and waterholes so they are protected.
- The Unique Wading Birds
Wading birds are unique in that they hunt for their food by wading around in the water. Their legs are very long and they are found in many areas.