Family Cranes (Gruidae)


Black Crowned-crane (Balearica pavonina)


French: Grue couronnée German: Kronenkranich Spanish: Grulla coronada cuellinegra
Other common names: Northern Crowned-crane, West African Crowned-crane (pavonina), Sudan Crowned-crane (ceciliae)

Ardea pavonina


, 1758,

Cape Verde, Senegal


Formerly considered conspecific with B. regulorum (lumped species sometimes erroneously listed as B. regulorum), but differences revealed by electrophoresis, together with those in vocalizations, bare parts and plumage, as well as in genetic evidence#R#R, advocate recognition of two species. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. p. pavonina (Linnaeus, 1758) – scattered populations in sub-Saharan W Africa from Senegambia to L Chad.
  • B. p. ceciliae Mitchell, 1904 – sub-Saharan Africa from Chad to Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and N Kenya, especially in basin of upper R Nile.
  • Descriptive notes

    100–105 cm; 3000–4000 g; wingspan 180–200 cm. Iris pale grey to pale blue. Distinguished from B. regulorum by darker neck, small wattles, and red... read more


    Calls are mellow honks, e.g. a single “honk” and a “ka-wonk”, generally low... read more


    Mixture of shallow wetlands and grassland. In W Africa, affects flooded lowlands, riverbanks, rice... read more

    Food and feeding

    Generalist. Feeds on insects, including grasshoppers and flies; other invertebrates, including molluscs, millipedes and crustaceans; fish,... read more


    Jul–Oct, but variable in response to rains, only occasionally nests during dry season. Nest, constructed by both sexes, is circular... read more


    Usually regarded as being non-migratory, but the species is only occasionally recorded in Congo-... read more

    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. CITES II.  In past, species was probably more numerous and more evenly distributed. Population of race ceciliae estimated at 28,000–55,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Archibald, G.W., Meine, C.D., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Black Crowned-crane (Balearica pavonina). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 January 2020).