Grey Crowned Crane - International Crane Foundation

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Grey Crowned Crane

Balearica regulorum

HEIGHT: ~ 104 cm, 3 ft
WEIGHT: ~ 3.6 kg, 8 lbs
POPULATION: 26,500 – 33,500
TREND: East Africa population decreasing; South Africa population increasing in South Africa and declining in some areas.
SUBSPECIES: Balearica regulorum gibbericeps (East African), Balearica regulorum regulorum (South African)
STATUS: IUCN: EN; Cites Appendix II


Primitive species of crowned cranes date back in the fossil record to the Eocene Epoch (56 to 33.9 million years ago). At least 11 species of crowned cranes once existed in Europe and North America. However, because crowned cranes are not cold hardy it is believed they died out in these areas as the Earth cooled and only survived in warmer Africa.


Adults – grey body, white wings with feathers ranging from white to brown to gold, head topped with stiff golden feathers, white cheek patches, red gular sack under chin, black legs and feet, short, grey bill; juveniles – greyish body, brown nape, buffy face, crown spiky and golden buff.

Download FREE Grey Crowned Crane images.


The Grey Crowned Crane’s range stretches from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya to southeastern South Africa. Grey Crowned Cranes are non-migratory, but undertake variable local and seasonal movements and are most abundant in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.


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Tips of grasses, seeds, insects and other invertebrates, small vertebrates, groundnuts, soybeans, maize and millet.


Listen to Grey Crowned Crane calls:

Contact Call | A soft, purring call expressing reassurance and location.


Wetland loss and degradation, human disturbance, live capture and egg collection for commercial trade, unintentional or intentional poisoning, power line collisions and land development.


Reducing the impact of global trade on all African crane species. We are:

  • Monitoring the supply routes of cranes, from capture to final destinations, in key hotspots for illegal trade in Africa. We are also reducing the need for wild-caught cranes by participating in and supporting global captive management and breeding programs.
  • Reducing demand for wild-caught cranes by creating local, national and international awareness of the status of Africa’s resident cranes and the threat that trade poses to wild populations.
  • Improving and enforcing policies that govern the trade of cranes and strengthening the consequences of engaging in illegal trade.

Engaging communities in the conservation of Grey Crowned Cranes and their wetland habitats across East and Southern Africa. We are:

  • Implementing integrated, community-based projects to secure significant breeding sites for the Grey Crowned Cranes in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, using regional campaigns to increase pride in the cranes and identifying and training local leaders for crane and wetland conservation.
  • Developing a sustainable finance mechanism to support long-term community conservation efforts for key crane sites with tools like carbon trading markets and payment for ecosystem service functions.
  • Finding and advocating for ways to reduce the conflict between farmers and Grey Crowned Cranes in agricultural landscapes where substantial crop damage occurs.


Adopt a Grey Crowned Crane!

Fight the African Crane Trade.

Become a member of the International Crane Foundation.

Learn more about Grey Crowned Cranes:

Mirande CM, Harris JT, editors. 2019. Crane Conservation Strategy. Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA: International Crane Foundation.