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A Court of Cranes

May 8, 2013

On a game drive around the flood plain in Gorongosa today, I saw something I have never seen before or even heard of: a large gathering of crowned cranes enacting what seemed to be a group mating ritual.

Photo: By James Byrne


Normally, crowned cranes are seen in pairs or alone, but never in groups. Or so I thought. This was a group of 27! It’s hard for me to tell males from females, so I don’t know the ratio of the sexes. But many of (what seemed to be) the males were leaping in the air and showing their wingspan, presumably a mating display. In one case, we saw a pair of cranes robotically following another one – perhaps two males stalking a female. All in all, it looked like some kind of crowned crane lek.

Photo: By James Byrne


I began to wonder if there was a collective noun for a group of crowned cranes? I thought “a court of crowned cranes” would be appropriate. On the Gorongosa flood plain, these elegant birds and their extravagant dancing resembled nothing less than a royal court full of Kings and Queens, Lords and Ladies, Princes and Princesses.

Photo: By James Byrne


But when I checked on the internet later, I discovered that the collective noun is “a sedge of cranes” or alternatively “a siege of cranes.” Hard to understand why! I prefer “a court of cranes” so I’ll use that instead!!


By James Byrne


Bush Diaries