These elegant birds get their names from the crown of stiff, golden feathers on top of their heads. They also have distinctive white feathers on the leading edge of their wings and bare cheek patches that are white and reddish.
Changes to their habitat are causing big problems for these birds. In recent years, wetlands and grasslands throughout their range have been devastated by drought, development and expansion of agriculture and by large-scale dam, drainage and irrigation projects.
These cranes build their large, haphazard nests out of whatever plant material is handy. Occasionally they build their nests on dry land, but more often their nests are built in several centimetres of water. Their one-metre-wide nests are round, loose platforms of reeds and grasses that usually contain between two and five eggs. Both parents fiercely guard their nest, chasing away any other birds that get too close.
At a Glance
3 - 4 kg (6.6 - 8.8 lbs)
Freshwater marshes, wet grasslands and the edges of lakes, ponds and rivers of East and West Africa.
These cranes will eat almost anything they can find, including grass seeds, grain, insects, grasshoppers, flies, crabs and small reptiles.