Scientific Name: Grus rubicunda
Brolgas are famous for their beautiful dances. They can occur at any time of year and often, after starting with a mating pair, the dance spreads amongst the flock. There is a lot of bowing, wing lifting, head bobbing, shaking, pirouetting and leaping into the air flinging grass and twigs about. This is accompanied by loud trumpeting and is a sight to behold.
This elegant crane is one of Australia’s largest waterbirds, standing at 1.3m tall. Brolgas are light silvery-grey with a red patch circling the eye and the back of the head. They have a hairy black dewlap under the chin and dark grey legs. The birds live in large family groups and a single flock can number in the hundreds.
Brolgas are found across Northern and Eastern Australia from the top of Western Australia through the Northern Territory, and across the eastern states as far as Victoria. They inhabit wetlands, coastal mudflats and grassy plains, as long as they are close to water. The loss of habitat in Victoria and NSW has led to a reduction of their numbers in these areas.
Brolgas spend their days digging out tubers, bulbs and shoots from the mud using their pointy beaks. They also eat seeds, insects and small frogs, reptiles and even mice.
Brolgas mate for life and strengthen their bonds by dancing. During the wet season, a platform nest up to 1.5m wide is built in swampy grassland using reeds and grasses. This sits like an island in the shallows. Two white eggs, blotched with brown and purple, are laid atop the nest and incubated for 32 days. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the hatchlings.