Blue Crane

Anthropoides paradiseus

South Africa’s national bird is a relatively small, blue-grey species of crane that stands around a meter high, with a wingspan of up to 2 meters and a weight up to 6kg.

Blue Cranes inhabit open grasslands, karoo-scrublands, fynbos and marshes, and have adapted to feeding in grainfields and pastures where these intrude into their preferred habitat. Grass and sedge seeds are their primary food source, though they’ll also take insects, frogs, crabs, and small reptiles and mammals. Blue Cranes are diurnal, roosting in wetlands at night.

Outside the summer breeding season Blue Cranes congregate in large (from 50 to 1000 birds), nomadic flocks, while in the breeding season they can be found in pairs or family groups. They perform an elaborate courtship dance, involving running, jumping, flapping and calling. Two eggs are laid in a simple nest constructed of reeds or grass in marshes and grasslands, and parents take turns to incubate the clutch for around 30 days. Any animal – human, herbivore or predator – is relentlessly attacked when they come too close the nest.

The IUCN considers the Blue Crane “Vulnerable” as their population has been seriously decreased by poisoning, loss of habitat and collisions with power lines. Population estimates put their numbers in the region of 25,000 in South Africa (almost half of which can be found in the Western Cape Province) with less than a 100 in neighbouring Namibia.

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47 thoughts on “Blue Crane

  1. perdebytjie

    Laat my so hartseer voel.Toe ons dertig jaar gelede hier in Benoni aan die Oosrand ingetrek het,was hier ‘n kraanvoëlpaartjie wat gereeld in die vlei gewei het.Ek het hulle altyd hoor krrr,as hulle oor die huis vlieg.Soveel uitbreidings het plaasgevind,dat hulle verdwyn het!Dankie vir mooi foto’s en inligting,Dries.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Most of it is accidental, Lois. Use of agricultural pesticides often cause deaths among unintended targets. Many of those kinds of poison are illegal, but the regulations are not always effectively policed until it is too late and a flock of dead cranes are found somewhere.

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  2. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

    Dis sulke statige voëls. Hul lyk soos fluweel. In die 1960s was daar nog van hul net buite Pretoria. Daar was selfs een jaar n paartjie wat gebroei en wat “kuikens?” gehad het. Hul het altyd net buite ons grensdraad geloop. Toe was die veld nog oop en ongeskonde.

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          1. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

            Beslis. Ek is so dankbaar dat ek al die geleenthede gehad het om so na aan die natuur te kon lewe. Gelukkig is hier ook spesiale geleenthede. Hier is die Kereru(wood pigeon) wat my baie plesier gee. Dis n ouer paar wat in lente meer en meer sigbaar is. Daar word n duif telling elke Sept gedoen. Elke keer sien ek hul as ons moet tel. Hierdie keer was hul bietjie later en was ek bekommerd dat hul dalk weg is. Tog een oggend was eers een daar en volgende oggend sit beide op die kragdrade waar hul gereeld soggend sit.

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              1. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

                Jong hul trek maar na dele waar daar meer eetgoed is. Hul leef van bloeisels en vrugte. Hier is baie vrugtebome dis hoekom hul meer na die tuine toe kom. Hul is bv ook nie baie “wild” nie. Mens jaag hul nie maklik weg nie. Dis n beskermde voël, veral Maories het hul geval om te eet omdat hul groot en swaar is. Daar is juis een van hul hoofleiers wat 5 in sy tas gehad het toe hy huistoe gevlieg het. Doeane het hom gevang en hy is goed beboet. Kastig nie besef hy mag dit nie doen nie.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Apart from the very small population in Namibia they are breeding endemics of South Africa, and luckily not heavily exploited for the pet trade as some other crane species are.

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          Sadly so, Jane. Cranes are a favourite feature in many “water gardens” in several countries. The Crowned Crane, which we’ll feature tomorrow, suffers far more in that regard.

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          1. Jane

            All so discouraging. I understand your love for wildlife, and feel sad for how very difficult it must be know the plight of so many African species… They are, after all, your beloved neighbors.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Unfortunately no, Helen. Most of our large flying birds are prone to collisions with power lines (vultures, bustards, etc). The electricity supplier tries to minimize the risk by making the powerlines more clearly visible through various means.

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      1. Helen C

        Sad. Can’t they paint the wire in bright red or something? I am glad that they are trying to minimize the risk. Hope they will find a way soon.
        Thanks. Have a great day/evening. 😉

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          Large red-and-white balls or pieces of bright reflecting metal attached to the cables seem to be the preferred method used now to make the wires more visible now. Problem is that most of the collisions occur in low light conditions as the cranes move from and to their nests at dusk or dawn, when visibility is more limited.

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