Fascinating Blue Crane Facts

The Blue Crane is the national bird of South Africa. It’s also known as the Stanley crane and the Paradise crane. The scientific name “Anthropoides paradiseus” means “paradise crane” in Latin, possibly referring to their almost angelic appearance. The scientific name for the blue crane is Anthropoides paradiseus.

There are fifteen species of cranes in the world, belonging to the family Gruidae in the order Gruiformes.

Most blue cranes live in South Africa, but some are found in neighboring countries like Namibia.

The blue crane is a tall, ground-dwelling bird, but is fairly small by the standards of the crane family.

The blue crane is the most terrestrial of the cranes, rarely seen in flight.

The blue crane has a height of 100 to 120 cm.

Blue cranes have long wing feathers that reach almost to the ground. The wingspan of the blue crane can vary anything from 180 to 210 cm. Blue cranes can fly at speeds up to 60-70 km/h, sometimes in V-formations.

Male blue cranes tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females. Blue cranes are pale blue-gray in colour, becoming darker on the upper head, neck, and nape. The blue crane’s long wing feathers, which trail to the ground, are a distinctive feature of this bird.

Blue cranes are terrestrial, or ground-living, birds. Blue Cranes generally prefer open grassland habitats, but also use agricultural areas like pastures and croplands.

They are altitudinal migrants, generally nesting in the upper grasslands and moving down to lower altitudes for winter. These cranes make a loud, nasal “krraaarrr” sound, as well as low-pitched raspy noises, rattling, and far-carrying croaks.

Blue cranes are omnivorous. They have a varied diet consisting of animals such as insects (like caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, etc.), small reptiles, frogs, fish, crustaceans and small mammals, and plant material such as small bulbs, seeds and roots.

Blue cranes are ground-nesting birds. Their nests are a simple foundation of grass stems and leaves.

Blue cranes are monogamous species, meaning pairs mate for life.

The breeding season of the Blue Crane is from September to December.

Blue cranes perform a “dance” during mating displays, with the male initiating the display and producing one call for each responding female call.

During these courtship dances, they would bow to each other, leap into the air, and toss up grass and small objects.

The female blue crane usually lays two eggs that hatch after 30-33 days of incubation. The eggs are a buff-yellow colour, marked with blotches of darker brown and olive. Baby blue cranes are called chicks.

The chicks are precocial, they hatch fully feathered. Chicks leave the nest after 3-5 months but remain with their parents for up to a year. The chicks are precocial, they hatch fully feathered.

Chicks leave the nest after 3-5 months but remain with their parents for up to a year. The young are able to walk after a couple of days and can swim well shortly thereafter.
Blue cranes are often seen in pairs or small family groups.

Blue cranes typically live for 10 to 20 years in the wild. However, their lifespan can vary depending on various factors, such as habitat quality, access to food, predation, and disease. Some blue cranes may surpass the average lifespan and live longer. Their lifespan in captivity can range from 20 to 25 years or even longer in some cases.

The maximum lifespan recorded for a blue crane in captivity is approximately 27 years. The blue crane is revered in the cultures of some South African ethnic groups. In particular, it plays a central role in the folklore of the Xhosa people of the Eastern Cape. The blue crane is a special bird to the Xhosa tribe in South Africa, who call it “indwe”.

The main threats to the Blue Crane are habitat loss, powerline collisions and illegal poaching. They are also sometimes deliberately or accidentally poisoned by farmers trying to protect their crops. Growing human populations and increased agricultural demands on the environment further endanger Blue Crane populations.

The blue crane population has been decreasing over the past few decades, but conservation efforts are in place to protect this beautiful bird. Blue cranes are a popular attraction for birdwatchers and tourists visiting South Africa. Blue Cranes are also traded illegally or kept as pets.

The blue crane is often associated with rainfall in folklore, and its dancing is said to predict rain.

The blue crane population is listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, with a decreasing population of 17,000-30,000 individuals.

Blue cranes have been successfully bred in captivity, with some zoos and conservation centers having successful breeding programs.

Blue cranes are considered a symbol of longevity and good luck in some cultures.

Blue cranes are considered a flagship species for conservation in South Africa, with efforts to protect them also benefiting other grassland bird species.

The blue crane appeared on South Africa’s five-cent coin until 2012.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect Blue Crane populations, involving partnerships between organizations like the Overberg Crane Group, Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust, and Birdlife South Africa.

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