East African Crowned Cranes

These statuesque birds live in wetlands and grasslands throughout eastern and southern Africa. A crowned crane’s elaborate, golden headdress of feathers helps it disappear into its grassland habitat. They are one of the only crane species able to roost in trees, using their long, flexible hind toes to grip onto branches. 

East African crowned cranes begin their elaborate courtship dances at the start of spring, just before the rainy season. Many of Africa’s indigenous people mimic the cranes’ movements in their rain dances.

As one of the many birds featured in Blue Horizons, crowned cranes gracefully soar overhead and into the horizon.

Q: How tall are they?
SW: East African crowned cranes can be up to 43 inches tall, with a wingspan of 6.5 feet.

Q: What do they eat?
SW: Crowned cranes eat seeds, grasses, worms, insects, and other small animals.

Q: Are they endangered?
SW: Although not currently endangered, many East African crowned crane populations are declining because of loss of their wetland nesting habitat from agriculture, overgrazing of livestock, and pesticide use.