Blue Crane

Anthropoides paradisea

Click to view a larger image. Click to view a larger image. bird bird

Museum specimen featured in the Wild exhibition
Source: Museum Victoria

Blue Crane
Image: Peter Johnson
Source: Corbis

Type: bird

Blue Crane Blue Crane
Image: Peter Johnson
Source: Corbis

Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

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.



Blue Cranes are omnivores.

They eat seeds, bulbs, roots, insects and small animals.


Blue Crane relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a cat and a woman.

3.6–5.1 kg
117 cm

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.

Did You Know?

Blue Cranes

  • are related to waterbirds but live in dry, inland areas
  • perform a graceful dance over a two-week courtship
  • form large flocks during winter


Blue Crane distribution map

Blue Cranes are found mostly in South Africa. A few live in Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland. They inhabit grasslands and agricultural areas.


Other animals from the Afrotropic

SecretarybirdMandrillAfrican Wild DogOkapi