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Meet the Family Cranes

Sandhill Crane

There are only 15 species of crane worldwide. These large, charismatic birds mate for life, dance for joy, and sing in unison.

Black-crowned crane – The king of the cranes

The purpose of the black-crowned crane’s headgear is unknown. It may be used in courtship displays, or help shade the bird from the hot African sun


Black-crowned Crane – Balearica pavonina

Class: Aves

Territory: West Africa, Sudan and South Sudan

Diet: Grains, plants, insects

Lifespan: 20-30 years

Adult weight: 3-4 kg (7-9 lb)

Conservation status: Vulnerable 

The black-crowned crane may be one of the smaller cranes but it is certainly the most regal, adorned with a large, yellow crown and smooth, black, velvety feathers on its head. This bird is unusual in the way it roosts; while most cranes are ground-dwelling creatures, the black-crowned crane is the only one known to take to the trees and build nests amongst the branches.

The cranes will search their surrounding area, looking for wetland edges where the best grasses and sedges grow, and use these to construct their nest. They hold an important place in Kenyan pastoralist (farming) culture, where they are highly regarded as messengers of peace.

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