Uganda's National symbol

                                                                                         Grey Crested Crane

Even if you aren’t actively birding, many of us have done birding thoughtlessly. We often look at birds as they rest in the trees, as they make their nests, we take pictures of beautiful birds, and even imitate the sounds they make. Birding is one of the most popular outdoor activities worldwide. There are millions of birders from all walks of life, and they’re out there looking everywhere from their homes to the ends of the earth.

The world hosts over 15 different species of Cranes, however only four are found in Africa. Uganda is blessed to be home to one of the Crested Crane species known as the Grey Crested Crane. The Grey Crested Crane is only found in Eastern and Southern regions of Africa. Tourists who have made Safaris to Uganda, situated in Eastern Africa, have witnessed the existence of this beautiful bird while carrying out their Uganda birding safaris.

According to Nature Uganda, currently, the Grey Crested Cranes range between 10000 and 20000 left in Uganda out of the 100,000 that have lived here four decades ago. These birds have reduced in number due to human actions that have led to the habitat loss due to their actions like constructing in wetlands hence announcing it as an endangered species of the country.

National Flag

               Uganda Flag

National Emblem

     Uganda Court of Arms

In Uganda, the Grey Crested Crane also known as the Crested Crane by Ugandans, belongs to the most preciously cherished birds in the country. It is was chosen as a National symbol that’s why it is found in the center of the Uganda flag and on the right side of the Uganda court of Arms.

Despite its beauty and popularity, this National treasure bird spotted on the  Uganda flag, is a totem of the Royal clan in Rwanda and the National bird of Uganda as well.

A Grey Crested Crane defined

The Grey Crested Crane is a beautiful multi colored bird famous bird known for having the three colors of the Ugandan flag; Black, yellow and red. Its multi colors, make the bird look pretty and elegant. A Grey Crested Crane is about 100cm tall and weighs about 3.5 Kilograms. Its body is grey with wings that are predominantly white. Its body feathers contain variety of colors. A Grey Crested Crane head has golden hair on its head. The sides of its face are colored white. It has a long neck, with a black forehead, yellowish chest, with glowing bright red wattles and has long slender black legs.  While flying, its wings width up to around two meters. It walks on its two legs however it only stands on one leg. The crested crane stands on one leg meaning that Uganda is moving forward.

A Grey Crested crane bird walks with pride, grace and tranquility. Its minimum life span is about 22 years. They can also live up to about 60years of age.

Birders undertaking Uganda safaris do not always miss out on watching this beautiful Uganda National symbol that redecorates its National flag.

What makes a Crested Crane unique?

It has been noted that humans and Crested Cranes can live together as companions. Male cranes and female cranes look alike although males are slightly larger Different people that have interacted with these birds especially in their home areas of residence have described Crested Cranes as joyful birds. when a person claps their hands or sing a song, these Crested Cranes usually dance to it nodding their heads and lifting their long legs as well.

Can you dance like a Crested Crane?

Can you dance like a Crane? Raise your feet one at a time, bow your head and jump. Do that repeatedly to certain song or sound. Then you have got the basics of the Crested Crane dance steps. Safari Uganda for a Uganda birding safari to encounter with this dancing bird.

Have you heard of a bird that tells time? Crested Cranes have sense of time even though they live without clocks.  People who have shared the same environment with Crested Cranes say that they have specific sounds they make at different times of the day.

Besides all that, Crested Cranes also have tender hearts. They protect fellow birds or animals by scaring away predators that may want to eat other birds or animals. Predators normally run away because of its size.

The Grey Crested Crane

             Two love birds

How does a crested crane behave?

Crested Cranes usually live as couple. In places where they are many in number, they live in two-four pairs or in small flocks of 3-15. Two potential partners stay together for life that’s why it’s a symbol of royalty in the Ugandan setting. Safaris Uganda have enabled tourists enjoy watching the life of these peaceful birds in the peaceful nation; Uganda.

How do Crested Cranes reproduce?

Crested Cranes normally lay 2-5 eggs. During the hatching time, the female leaves the male Crested Crane and goes to concentrate on hatching its eggs. However sometimes the females join the males in the hatching process which they do in turns. After hatching, they live together with the young one/ young ones  as a family for about a year. They then let go of the young ones so that they form their family.


Where do crested cranes stay?

Crested cranes live in open dry and wet areas. They enjoy damp fields preferably damp places with short grass. They usually desire wetlands, swampy places, lake shores, and rivers as well.

What do crested cranes feed on?

Crested Cranes feed on insects, snakes, worms, small fish, grass tips, eggs, and peas. Crested Cranes that leave near people’s gardens are often hit for eating peas in their gardens.

 Why does a crested crane stand on one leg?

Crested Cranes always stand on one leg when resting. They fold their leg up so as to keep their bodies warm because they have smaller bodies with have high temperatures so they lose temperature easily.


A Crested Crane is friendly, gentle and peace a peace-loving bird. Its nature sweetly matches with that the life of the Ugandan people that’s why it was chosen as Uganda’s National symbol.