Scientific Name: Balearica regulorum gibbericeps
Both the gray-crowned crane and the black crowned crane lack the coiled windpipe that other cranes use to produce their loud calls. These two cranes are also unique in that they are the only crane species that can perch in the trees, thanks to their long hind toes.
The gray-crowned crane is a social creature, often seen in flocks in the marshlands of Africa.
STATUS: The primary threats to these birds are habitat loss and illegal removal of birds and eggs from the wild for trade.
HABITAT: They live throughout much of eastern Africa, in wetland and grassland habitats. Although they may travel somewhat, depending on the abundance of food and water sources, these birds do not migrate.
DIET: Cranes feed on insects, grass seeds, invertebrates, reptiles and some small mammals.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The average adult gray-crowned crane is just over three feet tall and weighs about seven pounds. These cranes have a dark gray body and wings that are mostly white but with various colored feathers. They have a crown of gold feathers on top of their head. Their face is mostly white with small red patches on each upper side, and they have a bright red throat sac. They do not exhibit much sexual dimorphism, except that males tend to be slightly larger than females.
The male gray-crowned crane performs a special dance to attract females for breeding. The entire ritual involves dancing, bowing, jumping and head shaking. It also inflates the red throat pouch to produce a loud call. These cranes make honking sounds that differ greatly from the calls of other cranes. Breeding pairs of cranes of very territorial and will defend their nesting area using these loud calls.