Tall, elegant Grey Crowned cranes (Balearica regulorum) are shy birds that live in wetlands. These cranes are known for their intricate dance that they do during the breeding season. As the displays pick up they perform ballet leaps of extraordinary beauty. The entire ritual involves dancing, bowing, jumping and head shaking. They also inflate their red throat pouch to produce honking sounds that are unique from the calls of other cranes.
They tend to mate for life, are very territorial and will defend their nesting area using these loud calls. They are also unique in that they cannot perch in the trees, unlike other cranes, because of their long hind toes.
This bird, with its magnificent golden crown, is a fairly common resident in Gorongosa, but is threatened elsewhere in the world. The Gorongosa ecosystem, along with the Zambezi delta, probably supports the greatest number of these magnificent birds in Southern Africa. As such, the wetlands of Gorongosa’s floodplain are of global importance.