The crowned crane - A beautiful ballet dancer


A picture of a crowned crane.

The crowned crane is one of the most beautiful birds in the world.

It is a stately bird with subtle colors and an exquisite shape.

Almost four feet [more than a meter] long, it has a huge wingspan and a delicate, long neck, also characteristic of other types of cranes.

Male and female crowned cranes look alike.

The dark back feathers attractively frame the pure white wing feathers that run down both sides of the bird and turn golden near the tail. Other wing feathers are a rich chestnut brown.

The face of the crowned crane is a delight to see. Its cheeks are ivory and are surrounded by soft, ebony head feathers on the crown and throat.

The eyes are a beautiful light-blue. From the black throat feathers hangs a long, bright-red wattle, which dangles like a scarlet pendant when the crane stretches its neck horizontally.

Most conspicuous of all is the spectacular plume of slender, golden head feathers that form a magnificent symmetrical crown.

These lustrous, thin feathers glow golden when lit by the rays of the sun.

All these striking, contrasting colors are balanced atop two long, slender black legs.

The trumpeting call of the crowned crane is one of the unforgettable sounds: O-wahng! O-wahng! O-wahng!

This loud cry can be heard for great distances.

Often, a pair of cranes will call out together as they fly to or from their roosting trees.

At certain times of the year, crowned cranes congregate and may number up to 30 birds, producing a cacophony of sound that is a delight to the ears.

Parental Care


Crowned cranes evidently mate for life. They are found in especially in swamps and marshy areas, where they nest and raise their young.

The nest is a large cone-shaped heap of grass and reeds that provides a platform on which the female lays two or three large, greenish-blue eggs.

The male and female take turns sitting on the eggs, and within a month the chicks hatch.

The parents work together to feed and care for their downy offspring, and they will protect their fledglings fearlessly.

The crowned cranes’ main diet consists of insects, frogs, small snakes, and seeds.

Using their long, spindly legs and their large feet, they stamp the ground, making a quick meal of any small creature that is flushed out of the grass.

Bird Ballet


Crowned cranes are enthusiastic and entertaining dancers.

Flapping their large colorful wings, they lift themselves into the air vertically and then float gently back to the earth as if attached to a parachute.

Gracefully bounding about, they run and spring into the air, circling their mates and bobbing their heads with quick, clownish jerks.

Holding their large wings open, they stand erect and display the beautiful colors of their wing feathers.

Sometimes a pair will contort their necks into elegant shapes and look each other in the eye.

Beak-to-beak, they utter a series of low, booming notes as if serenading each other.

Standing upright again, they resume their elaborate bird ballet.

The Fight to Survive


Crowned cranes are rather tolerant of humans and are easily tamed.

Because of their delightful color and shape and their entertaining dancing displays, they are popular in zoos and are sought after to ornament private estates and gardens.

With such a demand, it is not surprising that their numbers are dwindling.

Further pressure on the crowned crane comes from the reclamation of wetlands and the use of poisons and insecticides, which pollute lakes and streams.