Stanley Crane (Blue Crane)
The Stanley crane, also known as the Blue crane or Paradise crane, is endemic to South Africa, where it is the national bird. It is identifiable by its large head, a thick neck, slate blue coloring and beautiful long wing feathers, called tertials, that trail behind it and are often mistaken for tail feathers.
Range & Habitat
This crane has the smallest range of any crane species: 99 percent of the world's 12,000 to 23,000 Stanley cranes live in South Africa. They prefer to feed in dry, grassy uplands and nest at high elevations, where there are fewer disturbances.
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Threats to this species include invasive agriculture and mining practices, power line collisions, human disturbance, unintentional and intentional poisoning, land development and live capture and egg collection for commercial trade.
In the Wild: Seeds of sedges and grasses, waste grains, insects and small vertebrates.
At the Zoo: Waterfowl mix of pellets and grains, along with rodents, insects, fruits and vegetables.
In Human Care: 20-30 years
Fun Facts about the Stanley Crane (Blue Crane)
- The Stanley crane is named after Henry Stanley, the American journalist famous for his expedition to locate missing British explorer David Livingstone in 1871.
- Africa’s Xhosa and Zulu tribes revere the Blue crane. Zulu royalty were the only tribe members traditionally allowed to wear Blue crane feathers, while only Xhosa warriors were permitted to wear Blue crane feathers into battle.
- Like other crane species, blue crane pairs leap and pirouette in courtship dances to enhance their pair bond.
- Our pair of blue cranes at the zoo often dance and call. You can hear what their call sounds like at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlzTVLZVRgE
International Crane Foundation, Blue Cranes. https://www.savingcranes.org/species-field-guide/blue-crane/
Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservataion Biology Institute, Stanley Crane. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/stanley-crane
Animalia.bio, Blue Crane. http://animalia.bio/blue-crane