Blue Cranes are under threat from many dangers, including poisoning, smuggling, accidents and habitat destruction. They are considered a pest by some farmers as they feed on grain crops or eat stock feed. Many birds have been poisoned for this reason, despite being protected by law. Other deaths occur from collisions with powerlines and fences, or when nests are destroyed during crop harvest. Furthermore, humans are replacing their grassland habitat with tree plantations.
Amazing Blue Cranes
One of the smaller members of the crane family, Blue Cranes are slender, graceful birds with long necks, pink beaks, blue-grey plumage, white crowns, and dark flight feathers that trail to the ground. When threatened, they fluff up their head and neck feathers to look larger.
Like other cranes, breeding pairs perform a dance of bowing, posturing, jumping, wing-flapping and calling. Pairs of Blue Cranes breed together year after year. Their eggs are laid between August and April in a simple nest, which is either a depression in the ground or a pad of wetland vegetation. The male and female become very territorial when breeding and chase away other birds. The chicks are raised by both parents and fledge after 3–5 months.
Outside the breeding season, Blue Cranes form large overwintering flocks that migrate to lowland areas in South Africa. Here they stop flying and moult. They congregate in large groups in open areas so that they can see any danger from afar.
Blue Cranes are the national bird of South Africa and have a ceremonial significance for certain African tribes.