The Crested Crane

This Crested Crane (scientific name Balearica regulorum species) belongs to the crane family gruidae.

There are just about 2 subspecies of the grey crested crane bird which include the East African crested crane which is found in Eastern countries like Congo, Kenya and Uganda where it is a national bird found on the Uganda national flag. This sub specie has a wide bare red area on the face just above that white patch. The second sub species is the South African crowned crane which is found in countries like Angola and in the southern part of the South Africa.

There are 16 different species of Cranes in the world, four of which are found in Africa, including the ‘great’ Grey Crowned Crane, the Uganda national symbol. To the many different tribes of Africa, the Crowned Crane called differently to a Muganda the call is Ng’aali; to a Swahili M’waari; to an Acholi, O’welo; to Zulu of South Africa, the sound is Maahem and the same sound is Muraaho to a Munyarwanda.

Sir Frederick was a famous ornithologist who surrounded himself with the beautiful cranes at the government House in Entebbe which he could feed from his own hands.

In a dispatch from the Secretary of State of the British Empire to the Governor of the Uganda Protectorate there appears the sentence: “His Majesty (George V) has approved of the Golden Crested Crane being likewise adopted as the Badge to be inserted on the flags flown by the Governor of Uganda and all vessels belonging to the Government of the Protectorate.”

Another naturalist, Sir Harry Johnstone, Deputy Commissioner in the Uganda Government more than likely influenced Sir Frederick in his choice of the Crowned Crane Emblem. As a token of his great admiration for the birds of Uganda, Sir Harry left a painting in his collection of a group of Crested Cranes. This painting majestically hanged in the Governor’s office.

Commonly called the crested crane, it is a bird of national significance to Uganda, occupying a prime position on the country’s national flag and coat of arms. With a crown of stiff gold-coloured feathers on its head, a bright red gular sac and body made of gray, brown, gold and white patches, the grey crowned crane stands out for its striking features.

The Crane is definitely an object of great beauty. It is a tall bird standing well over three feet, on long-slender black legs. Its neck is almost as long as its legs and towards the base, pointed pearl-grey feathers are elongated to form an ornamental fringe.

The tail feathers, comparatively short, are the colour of dried straw. When at rest, the Crowned Crane seems to be enveloped in a cape of exquisite delicacy with its multi-coloured head where the three colours of the Uganda’s Flag (Black, Yellow, Red) seem to be represented. The conspicuous velvety black forehead, yellowish crest and the vivid bright red wattles, make the Crested Crane an elegant creature, befitting its emblematic role.

Quick Facts About the Crested Crane

Cranes have so many species around the world but the crested crane is another species and its scientific name is Balearica regulorum. It’s very unique and beautiful in appearance with its outstanding colors, blank yellow and red with a little of grey well distributed on its feathers and body.

Grey crowned cranes stand 1m (3.3ft) tall and weigh 3.5kg (7.7lbs). Their wingspan is approximately 2m (6.5ft). Males are slightly larger than females. Below are more facts about the crested crane

  • Africa is the native home of the grey crowned crane. They are commonly found in Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Burundi, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and other African countries to mention but a few.
  • The crested crane is a national bird of Uganda and it’s featured on the national flag and coat of arm because of its colors, black, yellow and red.
  • Crested crane are an endangered species and the numbers are decreasing due to encroaching on their habitat areas, the marsh, wetland and swamps.
  • Crested cranes usually flock in large numbers of 30-150 birds. Outside of the breeding season pairs will preen each other to strengthen their bond.
  • These birds do not move around enough to be considered migratory but they do change location seasonally to make sure they are near water and food.
  • Cranes are known as omnivores, they feed on plants as well as small insects. They

Live near water, small fish, insects, and amphibians are their prey. In addition, they feed on plants, grains, seeds, tree barks, and leaves as well.

  • Cranes are known for their vocal calls and they are social. Their vocabulary of call is used to ask for food, as an alarm, to impress the partner etc. The length and position of their trachea helps the cranes to amplify their calls, which can be carried to several kilometers.
  • They are monogamous. Cranes live with their partners all the time, that’s why you always meet a pair when you find them.
  • Crested cranes hatch in 30 days. Chicks grow fast within 12 hours they are playing and floating on water, after 2 days they are following their mother to feed.
  • Cranes build nests made with dried plant material like grass, seeds, sedges, greener leaves, grass where they retire from at night. Both males and females gather the material; however, only female cranes build the nest. The nests can be around 3-4 inches tall and 30-40 inches across.
  • Cranes love to dance, at any time of the year exceptional of whether they are bleeding or not, you will meet the crested jumping up and down, swinging wings.
  • Cranes live up to 22 years, their life span is longer than any other bird, on rare occasion it can live up to 60 years.
  • Human beings and predators like wild cats, dogs and fox are the major threats to the crested cranes.