Size Head to toe: 110-120 cm. Wingspan: 180-200cm. Males tend to be bigger than females.
Gestation 30-33 days
Young 2 eggs
Stanley cranes will mostly eat the seeds of grasses and sedges, plant roots, small bulbs and also small animals including invertebrates (such as worms, caterpillars, termites and grasshoppers), frogs, crabs and small mammals (such as mice).
These birds are a bit different to the other species of cranes, because instead of using their bill to find food hiding in the soil, Stanley cranes will mostly use their bill to pluck food from the surface of the ground.
These birds are found throughout Africa, although they are most common in South Africa and Namibia.
The preferred habitats of the Stanley crane are dry upland grasslands, wetland areas and they are even found in arable and pastureland which is used in farming.
Stanley cranes breed in or close to wetland areas, and their breeding season is usually from September to February. To find a perfect mate, the males will perform an elaborate courtship display, and once they have attracted a female, they will then mate for life.
A simple nest is built on the ground using grasses and pebbles or on top of a small platform made from reeds and grasses. Once the female has laid 1-2 eggs in the nest, both parents will take turns to sit on the eggs (incubate) until they hatch 30-33 days later. The chick(s) follow the parents away from the nest to find food from 12 hours old. The young will start to fly from 12 weeks old and are fully independent from their parents at 3 to 5 months. Their search for a mate starts when they are mature at 3-5 years old.
One of the natural predators of the Stanley crane is the Cape clawless otter. However they are also known to be hunted by domestic dogs.
In the past the main threat to Stanley cranes was from deliberate and accidental poisoning, as they were thought to be a pest to farmers. They have also been harmed with poisons aimed at other pest species (including insects and small mammals). The most recent threats to these birds include flying into power lines, loss of habitat due to farming, new trees being planted in grasslands and wetland areas drying up. The chicks of Stanley cranes are even known to be caught illegally for food and the illegal pet trade.
With the decline in numbers, conservation activities for this bird species have increased. The deliberate poisoning of the Stanley cranes has decreased dramatically, however accidental poisonings are still known to happen. There are many conservation projects put in place to protect this species, including tighter protection by law, habitat management, and education programs. These animals are also involved in captive breeding programs worldwide.
The Stanley crane is also known as the "blue crane" and the "paradise crane".
The Stanley crane is the national bird of South Africa, and is even on their 5 cent coins!
They have very long wing feathers (tertial feathers) that fade to a black colour. When they fold in their wings when walking or standing, these feathers are often mistaken for tail feathers, as they hand behind the Stanley crane and almost touch the ground.
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