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Zoo Welcomes Two
East African Crowned Cranes

East African crowned cranes

Posted July 2018

The Milwaukee County Zoo welcomes two male East African crowned cranes to the Savanna Yard, just past Family Farm!

New to the Zoo, the East African crowned cranes live in the Savanna Yard, a mixed species exhibit, with cinereous vultures, African-ground hornbills, impalas and Thomson’s gazelles. Also known as a gray-crowned crane, they are from eastern sub-Saharan Africa and the southern portion of South Africa in grasslands near water.

The elder crane, Ichabod, is from the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska. He will be two in July. The younger crane, Irving, is from the Saint Louis Zoo in Missouri. He just turned one in January!

East African crowned cranes get their name from the straw-yellow crown on their head. These birds are gray in color, ranging from dark to light, with vibrant white wings and chestnut markings. Their cheeks are white adorned with a small vibrant red patch above the eyes and below the beak. An East African crowned crane does not reach full eye color, face and neck coloration until 20-to-24 months old.

East African crowned cranes are monogamous, and mate for life. During courtship, they perform a “nuptial dance” initiated by either sex. The “nuptial dance” done by both the male and female starts with a series of calls, followed by bobbing and bowing actions, as well as jumping.

East African crowned crane are omnivores, feasting on plants, worms, insects, lizards and small mammals. These birds are very, very hungry and can spend their entire day looking for food. To reach the insects these birds stomp the ground, which disturbs the insects enough to reach them. They can also be found following cattle, foraging insects that they disturb and kick up.

Visit the Savanna Yard to welcome our newest residents, the East African crowned cranes and see if you can tell the two apart. Irving is the paler of the two!