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Habitat: Wetland, Coastal, Grassland

The Brolga inhabits large open wetlands, grassy plains, coastal mudflats and irrigated croplands and, less frequently, mangrove-studded creeks and estuaries. It is less common in arid and semi-arid regions but will occur close to water.

One of the most obvious features of the Brolga’s behaviour is its courtship display, an elaborate dance. The dance begins with a pair of birds picking up grass, tossing it into the air and catching it again. This is followed by the birds repeatedly leaping a metre into the air with wings outstretched, followed by stretching their necks upwards, bowing to one another, bobbing their heads, walking about and calling. Sometimes the dance is done alone or in a group, with the birds lining up opposite one another. Outside the breeding season, Brolgas form large family groups and flocks of up to a hundred birds. These groups may be partially nomadic or may stay in the same area. Some birds also migrate northwards.

Brolgas are omnivorous (feeding on both vegetable and animal matter), but primarily feed upon tubers and some crops. Some insects, molluscs, amphibians and even mice are also taken.

Brolgas probably mate for life, and pair bonds are strengthened during elaborate courtship displays. An isolated territory is established and is vigorously defended by both partners. The white (blotched with brown and purple) eggs are laid in a single clutch of 2 eggs. The nest is a large mound of vegetation on a small island in a shallow waterway or swamp. Both adults incubate the eggs (32 days) and care for the young birds. Breeding season is from September to December in the south and February to May in the north.