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Blue Crane

World Cup 2010 has begun, and unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware that it is taking place in South Africa, the first time it has ever been held on that continent. So in honor of this grand event, I present the national bird of South Africa: the Blue Crane. I had debated doing a write-up on the Springbok, their national animal, (and Rugby mascot) but I feel like I cover deer/antelope species far too often, so I'm going to put that one off till a later date (the finals perhaps?)

Image from Iyuefra.com
Anyway, less musing, more birds. 99% of all Blue Cranes (Anthropoides paradisea) are found within South Africa. They have the most restricted distribution of any crane species. They live in grassland areas, and sometimes use wetlands for breeding and roosting. Blue Cranes are a medium sized crane, standing about four feet tall and weighing in at eleven pounds. (In comparison, the largest crane, and also the largest flying bird, is the Sarus Crane. It stands 5.9 feet tall) They are bluish-grey in color, with black winds and legs. There is no distinction between the males and females of the species. Interestingly, the Blue Crane is the only crane that does not have the color red on it.

Blue Cranes reach breeding age at 3-4 years. They mate for life and the partners will rarely leave visual range of one another. Like other species of crane, Blue Crane mates engage in unison calling. It is believed that these calls and movements serve a variety of purposes outside of courtship, including motor development adn tension release. But anyway, back to breeding. They prefer to nest on the ground, in grassy areas where their eggs can be hidden. 2-3 eggs are laid at a time.

Poisoning from agriculture, and loss and alteration of habitats has placed the Blue Crane as vulnerable. The South African government and private groups have been working to protect the species.

The Blue Crane is found on the South African 5 cent coin!

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