Interesting Facts About The East African Crowned Crane

It is always a great honour to know that some of Kenya’s regions are listed as Important Bird Areas. As seen in some of our recent posts, River Sabaki, Lake Bogoria and Mida Creek are some of the areas that hold a significant number of bird species. Measures are continuously taken to keep these areas safe and conducive for these birds so as to ensure their population keeps steady, if not grow.

When talking about Birds in Kenya most people will mention flamingos and ostriches. But there are more kinds of bird species that occur in the country that are often overlooked. A good example is the East African Crowned Crane. Here are some fascinating facts about the beautiful birds.

There are two subspecies of the East African Crowned Crane

The Black and the Grey Crowned Crane are both members of the larger umbrella of East African Crowned Cranes. Although the birds look very similar, they have several differences including the colour of their feathers, sounds and general behaviour.

The Grey Crowned Crane is Uganda’s National Bird

As the name suggests, these birds are common in East Africa and not Kenya alone. They are particularly populous in Uganda, which holds the highest number of Grey Crowned Cranes. In fact, the bird is given a national status of importance and is featured in the core of the country’s flag.

They occur in marshlands

The East African Crowned Cranes can be classified as semi-aquatic birds given their love for swamps and marshes. The birds however also inhabit other drier grounds but not in large numbers as compared to marshlands.

  1. Lake Ol Bolossat is their Kenyan home

In Kenya, the largest number of East African Crowned Cranes is found in the Lake Ol Bolossat at the slopes of the Aberdare Ranges. Here, more than 900 crowned cranes can be counted at once and even more during their breeding seasons.

They are dancing birds

One of the most common feature in all crowned cranes is their dancing ability. The birds are seen performing elegant and somewhat complex moves during courtship. However, research and further observation prove that the birds in fact dance throughout the year. The young ones are taught the dance moves as a way to get them socialized with other members of the flock. Human beings have borrowed some of these routines into their own.

They are the only perching crane species

Of all the crane species in the world, only the East African Crowned Cranes can perch and nest on a tree. They have a hind toe that allows them clutch at tree branches and keep their balance.

They have an actual permanent crown

The crowned cranes are not named so as a metaphor. The birds do in fact have a permanent crown made of stiff golden feathers that never lay or wither. In fact the crown grows bigger with the bird’s age.