click for info on pic Home Page BROLGA

Grus rubicundus "reddish crane"
Is one of 2 types of Cranes found in Australia, the other being the Sarus Crane
The Brolga is also known as the "Australian crane" or as the "Native Companions"


DESCRIPTION
The Brolga is a tall and slender bird, with very long legs which are mainly grey and a slender neck (grey) which is topped with a bare head and a red patch of skin behind the eye running around the back of the head
self grooming Adult plumage (feathers) is also grey.
They grow to around 1 meter tall with a wingspan of 2 meters.
Because Brolgas often nest and live in brackish water they are the only crane species to have a gland in the corner of their eyes which helps to pass excessive salt


Head and neck BEHAVIOUR
Brolgas are normally found in large noisy flocks (sometimes 1,000 or more) Each family group in the flock is lead by a male.
When the wet season is over they may have to fly large distances to find food.
Brolgas may search for cooler air by flying to high altitudes.


LOCATION & HABITAT
Location map of Brolgas The Brolga is found mostly in the tropical north or in the east of Australia
It is hard to estimate numbers in Australia but it is said to range between 20,000 and 100,000
They love to conegrate in fresh water swampy grasslands, but can survive in marginal brackish and salty wetlands

FEEDING
Brolgas have a varied diet but love sedge tubers (small, starchy swellings on roots of wetland plants)
They also like grain crops, seeds, insects (invertebrates), and a range of small vertebrates like frogs and small reptiles
click for info on pic The Brolga looks for food during daylight hours

DANCING
This is what brolgas are most famous for, their mating dance
With wings spread and facing each other the 2 brolgas jump, dance, pirouette, prance about and perform also a lot of head shaking
At the same time they often make loud trumpeting calls The dance is very smooth looking and graceful


BREEDING & NESTS
Breeding season in northern Australia begins in November or December during the "pre-wet." Once the wet starts to arrive they start to "nest"
click for info on pic Their nests tend to be found in swampy grasslands, where they make a platform of grasses, reeds and sedge (around a 1 1/2 meter diameter)
Both the female and the male (who mate for life) incubate the clutch of two white eggs which take a month to hatch.
The young when born are active quickly (2-3 hours) and remain with both periods for a period of a year or so
They breed in a typical family unit but after a short period (4 months approax) when the wetlands start to dry up, they return to coastal waters to reform large flocks
Heat damage to Eggs is a problem which is alleviated 3 ways
1) The eggs are almost white to reflect sunlight and heat
2) Nests are sometimes built in the shade of trees
3) Parents stand over the nests offering shade

Brolga near swamp land THREATS
Are many and varied to the Brolga
1) Loss of wetland habitats due to
.................... .......................................... - Grazing of livestock
.................... .......................................... - Changes in Vegetation
.................... .......................................... - Wetland reclamation
.................... .......................................... - Erosion damage
.................... .......................................... - Upriver drainage for farmlands
2) Red Foxes (introduced)
3) Incidental poisoning
4) Collisions with Power lines etc
5) Fencing which can entangle chicks when moving
back to wetter coastal plains


LINKS
Birds in Backyards - The Brolga

Australian Crane Network




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