Standing just over 1m tall, the Blue Crane (Anthropooedes paradisea),
also called Stanley Crane is a light
blue-grey, has a long neck supporting a rather
bulbous head, long legs and elegant wing plumes
which sweep to the ground.
The Blue Care is an endangered species, endemic
to South Africa and Namibia. In the early 1960s,
100,000 birds were recorded. Today this has declined
to 25,000 in South Africa (48% of which are in the
Western Cape grain belts), with a small breeding
colony of just 60 birds in Namibia.
Blue Cranes are summer breeders, laying a clutch
of two eggs in a shallow depression, where the
incubating bird has an unobstructed view of the
surroundings. No actual nest is built. The eggs
hatch after 30 to 33 days, and the buffy-headed
chick spends 85 days or more being fed and tended to
by both parents. Like all members of the crane
family, adults bond and pair for life, and often
perform elaborate dancing rituals prior to each
Blue cranes are quite common in the Karoo, but
are also seen in the grasslands of
the highveld, usually in pairs or small family
The blue crane has a distinctive rattling croak,
fairly high-pitched at call, which can be heard from
far away. It is, however, usually quiet.
Blue Crane is a bird very special to the
amaZulu and amaXhosa.
In Zulu culture only Zulu Kings are
allowed to wear the feathers in their
In Xhosa culture, when a man
distinguished himself by deeds of valour, or
any form of meritorious conduct, he was
often decorated by the chief by being
presented with the feathers of the Blue
Crane or Indwe.
After a battle, the chief would organise
a ceremony called ukundzabela � a ceremony
for the heroes, at which feathers from the
indwe, would be presented.
Men so honoured � they wore the feathers
sticking out of their hair � were known as
men of ugaba (trouble) - the implication
being that if trouble arose, these men would
reinstate peace and order.