The Brolga is a large, grey crane, with a featherless red head and grey crown that inhabits wetlands and grasslands. It is known for its elaborate courtship dance, often accompanied by a loud ‘honking’ call.
The Brolga is a large grey crane, with a featherless red head and grey crown. The legs are grey and there is a black dewlap under the chin. Females are shorter than males. The Brolga is one of Australia’s two crane species. The energetic dance performed by the Brolga is a spectacular sight and displays may be given at any time of the year and by birds of any age. Their average size is 1.12 metres. Similar in appearance to the Sarus Crane, but the red on the head does not extend as far down the neck
The Brolga’s call is a loud trumpeting ‘garooo’ or ‘kaweee-kreee-kurr-kurr-kurr-kurr-kurr-kurr’, which is given in flight, at rest or during courtship. Bird call recorded by: Marc Anderson
The Brolga is found across tropical northern Australia, southwards through north-east and east central areas, as well as central New South Wales to western Victoria.
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.
Wetland, Coastal, Grassland