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Brolga Fact File

Appearance

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. This head which sits on top of the long neck is colored red with grey on the crown.

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

Their legs are colored black.

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

Females tend to be shorter than the males.

Diet

The brolga is considered an omnivore. Their diet includes tubers which they can use their beak to dig up, wetland plants and grains. Human grown crops may also be consumed.

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

Brolga

Scientific Name

Grus rubicunda

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

6kg (13lbs)

Height

1m (3.3ft)

Wingspan

2.4m (7.9ft)

Lifespan

1 years

Diet

Omnivorous

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Range

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.

Habitat

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

Brolga

Reproduction

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.

Partners 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.

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 will care for them for up to a year.

Behavior

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.

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

Brolga

Predators and Threats

Introduced predators such as the red fox will prey on these birds while they are breeding. Feral pigs also reduce the cover of plants.

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.

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.

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.

Brolga

Photo Credits

Top

By jjron – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3334866

Middle One

Copyright. The Animal Facts.

Middle Two

By Glen Fergus – Own work, Eulo, Australia, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=970632

Bottom

By John Robert McPherson – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93582601

References

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.

Parksaustralia.gov.au. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/discover/nature/birds/brolga/> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

Bush Heritage Australia. 2021. Brolgas (Australian Cranes) – Bush Heritage Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/brolgas> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

Birdsinbackyards.net. 2021. Brolga | BIRDS in BACKYARDS. [online] Available at: <https://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Grus-rubicunda> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

International Crane Foundation – International Crane Foundation. 2021. Brolga – International Crane Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://www.savingcranes.org/species-field-guide/brolga/> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

PerthZooWebsite. 2021. Brolga. [online] Available at: <https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/animal/brolga> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

The Australian Museum. 2021. Brolga. [online] Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/brolga/> [Accessed 30 March 2021].

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Similar Species

Grey crowned crane
red crowned crane

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