Brolga Fact File

Grus rubicunda


6 kg






Wild - 33 years

Captive - 33 years



Plants, Insects

conservation status


Lest Concern

Birds that Boogie!

The brolga is known for their characteristic dance moves which they will display during courtship. This involves the birds jumping up and down while producing loud trumpeting noises. Often they will also stretch out their wings during this display.

This species is one of the few crane species equipped with a gland that helps them to excrete excess salt from their body.

They are one of the world's fifteen crane species and one of only two which can be found in Australia. Often they can be seen alongside the other species, the sarus crane in the North of the country.


What does a Brolga look like?

The brolga is a tall member of the crane family which is colored grey across much of its body except for the head which is featherless. Their neck is long. The head features a red or orange patch.

A small black dewlap is present under the chin. The end of the wings have black tips.

Their legs are colored black or grey.

These birds stand at up to 1m (3.3ft) tall with a wingspan of up to 2.4m (7.9ft) across. Females tend to be shorter than the males. An average weight for the species is 6kg (13lbs).


How does the Brolga survive in its habitat?

In the corner of the brolga's eye is a gland which helps to remove excess salt from their body. They are one of the few cranes which are equipped with this adaptation.

The long legs of the brolga are an adaptation which help to keep their feathers above the water line in their wetland habitat.


What does a Brolga eat?

The brolga is considered an omnivore. Their diet includes tubers , wetland plants and grains. They will use their beak to dig around in the soil to obtain this food. Human grown crops may also be consumed.

Animal prey includes insects, small mammals such as mice, frogs and molluscs.


Where do you the find the Brolga?

Australia is the native home of the brolga with populations also recorded from New Guinea both in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. In Australia they can be found from South Australia and Victoria in the south through New South Wales and in to Queensland and the Northern Territory in the North.


Where can a Brolga survive?

These animals make their home close to water. These habitats may include wetlands, grassy plains, mudflats, irrigated croplands, creeks and estuaries.

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How does a Brolga produce its young?

The breeding season is variable based on their range. In the south they will breed from September to December while in the North breeding takes place from February to May.

These birds have become known for their energetic courtship dance. During this they will jump and trumpet at one another. During this display they throw grass in the air and catch it in their beak. They will then stretch out their wings and bob their head and beat their wings.

Brolgas will perform these displays year round and it can be performed by birds of any age.

Pairs are monogamous and will remain together for life.

The nest is an island mound formed from sticks, grasses and sedges. Pairs may reuse their nest each year. Some have used the same nest for 20 years. Pairs maintain their nest within a small range which they defend against entry by other birds.

Two eggs are deposited in to the nest and incubated for 32 days by both the male and female. Once the eggs hatch both parents will work together to care for the young. The parents raise the chicks for the next year.


What does the Brolga do during its day?

These animals are not considered migratory but they may move to different areas based on seasonal rainfall.

These birds produce a loud 'garoo' call while in flight or during courtship. They may also produce a loud trumpeting sound.

Outside the breeding season the brolga may form flocks with up to hundreds of members.

Predators and Threats

What stops the Brolga from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of the brolga include crocodiles, birds of prey such as the white-bellied sea eagle and snakes. Introduced predators such as the red fox will prey on these birds while they are breeding. Feral pigs also reduce the cover of plants.

Populations of the brolga are declining. Current estimates of the population place it anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 individuals. Despite this they are considered endangered in Victoria where their may be as few as 1,000.

These animals have been threatened by collisions with powerlines.

Humans have reduced their population through hunting in retaliation for damage they cause to crops. Other effects from humans include habitat destruction and disturbance. Humans may directly hunt this species for use in taxidermy.

Quick facts

The brolga is one of two cranes found in Australia, the other being the sarus crane.

Occasionally the brolga has been referred to as the Australian crane. They have also been referenced as the native companion due to a belief they were the only crane found in Australia. Sarus cranes were first recorded in Australia in the 1960s.

The name brolga is taken from the Aboriginal language Gamilaraay in which this species is known as the burralga.

These animals are named from the Aboriginal language Gamilaraay, in which they are called, burralga.

A salt gland is present behind the eye of the brolga to allow them to excrete a salt solution which allows them to drink saltwater.

The brolga is pictured on the coast of arms of the state of Queensland.


Taylor, B. and Orr, R., 2021. The bird atlas. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley.

Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub. 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

Bush Heritage Australia. 2021. Brolgas (Australian Cranes) - Bush Heritage Australia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 30 March 2021]. 2021. Brolga | BIRDS in BACKYARDS. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

International Crane Foundation - International Crane Foundation. 2021. Brolga - International Crane Foundation. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

PerthZooWebsite. 2021. Brolga. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

The Australian Museum. 2021. Brolga. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

Anage entry for Grus Rubicunda (no date) Brolga (Grus rubicunda) longevity, ageing, and life history. Available at: (Accessed: February 22, 2023).

“Our Wildlife Fact Sheet - Brolga” (2017).

Australian Crane Network (2020) Cranes. Available at: (Accessed: February 22, 2023).

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