The decorative crown of golden feathers makes the statuesque grey-crowned crane one of the most recognisable birds here at the zoo.

Its mainly grey plumage contrasts sharply with black and white wings, and a bright red pouch that hangs from the throat. Like all cranes, these graceful birds have very strong pair bonds, and often remain paired for life. These bonds are strengthened prior to breeding by elaborate dances and booming calls involving inflation of the throat pouch.

Our grey crowned cranes can be found in our huge African Wetlands Aviary, which they share with a number of other wetland species including African ducks and pelicans. Our grey crowned cranes are part of an ex situ breeding and we also help to support crane conservation in the wild, in a number of African countries.

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Interesting facts

Where they live: Central, east and southern Africa.

Habitat: Mixture of wetlands and open grasslands, also often found in agricultural land.

Diet: Seeds, grass heads, insects and other small animals such as frogs and lizards.

Height: 1m

Weight: 3-4kg

Threats: Loss of habitat, particularly wetland areas, which are being drained for agricultural use. Collisions with overhead power lines as Africa’s electrical systems develop and power lines increase across much of the continent. Conflict with farmers. Widespread trapping for the private bird trade.

Scientific name: Balearica regulorum


Species Information

Scientific name Balearica regulorum
Order Gruiformes
Family Gruidae
Genus Balearica
IUCN status Endangered
Roles in the zoo

In situ Conservation Ambassador

Habitat conservation: This is a species that we support through our habitat-focused conservation projects and programmes around the world.

Visitor experience

Exhibit Enhancement: This species connects visitors with the geographic areas that they originate from and helps develop further understanding of the environmental issues facing the species in those regions.