home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Anthropoides paradiseus (Blue crane) 

Bloukraanvoël [Afrikaans]; Indwe [Xhosa]; iNdwa [Zulu]; Mohololi [South Sotho]; Mogolodi [North Sotho]; Mogôlôri [Tswana]; Paradijskraanvogel, [Dutch]; Grue de paradis [French]; Paradieskranich [German]; Grou-do-paraíso [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Gruiformes > Family: Gruidae

Anthropoides paradiseus (Blue crane) 
Blue crane, Darling Hills, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Blue crane. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to southern Africa, mainly in South Africa while largely excluding the Northern Cape and Limpopo Province, with a small, isolated population at Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. It generally prefers open grassland, dwarf shrubland and cultivated land.

Distribution of Blue crane in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  



Recorded by O.M. Prozesky, Renosterpoort 1982, [© Transvaal Museum]


Predators and parasites

Movements and migrations

Largely resident, although in winter it moves from the cold, high-lying plateau of South Africa to the warmer savanna areas of Mpumalanga and adjacent provinces.


Omnivorous, eating a wide variety of plant matter, insects, other invertebrates and small vertebrates, doing most of its foraging by pecking the ground or digging with its bill. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
    • insects
      • bollworm caterpillars (Lepidoptera)
      • grasshoppers and locusts (Orthoptera)
      • Hodotermes mossmabicus (Northern harvester termites)
    • crabs
    • worms
  • Vertebrates
    • fish
    • frogs
    • reptiles
    • small mammals
  • Plant matter
    • lucerne leaves
    • maize
    • wheat seeds


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, performing a variety of courtship displays, including running, dancing  and the tossing of dung and vegetation into the air.
  • The nest (see image below) is either a pad of vegetation on wet ground, or a simple scrape in dry ground with a layer of pebbles, vegetation and mammal dung.
Anthropoides paradiseus (Blue crane) 

Recently hatched Blue crane chick standing next to chick in the process of breaking out of its egg. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-April, peaking from October-December.
  • It lays 1-2, usually two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 29-30 days.
  • The chicks leave the nest about 12 hours after hatching, at which the point the adults lead them away to teach them to forage. The siblings are extremely aggressive to each other at first, although lessening in intensity when they start to find food for themselves at about 15 days old. They take their first flight at about 12 weeks old, becoming fully independent approximately two months later.


Vulnerable, partly due to widespread decreases in the grassland biome largely caused by poisoning, as well as overgrazing and afforestation.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.