African Crowned Crane
Balaerica Pavonina

ORDER: Gruiformes
FAMILY: Gruidae

3 feet tall

South and Southeast Africa as far north as equator

Marshes and lakes; open landscapes

Wild - Varied diet includes small aquatic and terrestrial animals including insects, reptiles and frogs; also seed and grain.

Zoo - Crane diet, mealworms

Characteristic tuft of delicate yellow feathers arranged in a crown on top of its head (feature that gives it its name)


  • Has sharp bill to capture aquatic and terrestrial animals for food
  • Sedentary bird making no long migrations.
  • Quite a lazy bird by nature; can spend hours standing motionless on one leg.
  • Not very timid; social bird living in flocks of 6 - 20.
  • This esteemed locust hunter of the African steep has developed its own hunting method by stamping its feet on the ground, startling the insects in the grass into flying up so that they become easy prey.


  • Nest is a heap of broken and interwoven twigs with a hollow in center built in clump of reeds, sedge, or other grasslike water plants.
  • Faithful pairs return to same nesting areas to raise small families of 1 or 2 young.
  • Elaborate courtship ritual involves head bobbing, wing flapping, and jumping.

CITES App. II; declining due to habitat loss and drought