pink galah

The dancing Brolga

A majestic Australian bird

Well-known for its legendary dance, the Brolga is one of the largest water birds in Australia.

Other names for the elegant grey Australian bird with the red head are "Australian crane" and "Native Companion". Without doubt, the native companion is Australia's most treasured water bird. This feathered creature is another stunning example of the beautiful fauna you will see when travelling in the Australian Outback.

dancing brolgas
Dancing Brolgas

Why does the Australian crane dance?

The secret of the dance is not solved yet. Dancing happens at any time of the year. There are several aboriginal legends around this amazing dancing bird. One story goes that a young maiden was turned into this elegant bird because of her continuous dancing.

detail of a brolga
Ornithologists think that the dance strengthen the bonds between couples. Once they have mated they stay together for a lifetime. Don't most humans dream about that? :) Whatever the reason behind the dancing, it is wonderful to experience this spectacular sight. Where do you find this Australian bird?

Brolgas are found across the tropical north in Australia, from Western Australia to the Queensland coast, in Queensland, and down south in New South Wales and Victoria.
Recognise the birds in the nature. The Australian Outback is filled with bird song, even if you don't see them.

Unfortunately, their numbers became smaller in the southern states during the twentieth century. They are a rare sight in the south now. Loss of native habitat due to increasing agriculture and foxes are to blame for that. Fortunately, they are still abundant in the north.

Australian cranes live around shallow lakes and swamps, in flooded grasslands and salt marshes. Here they'll find their favourite food, which is shoots and seeds, insects and worms.

What does the native companion look like?

The birds have a silvery-grey colour, and a bright red head. The average adult is 1,5 metre tall, their wingspan is up to 2 metres. They can be confused with the Sarus Crane.
To distinguish them look at their legs. If the legs are reddish-pink it's a Sarus Crane. Dark grey legs mean you've spotted a Brolga.

In the tropical North, where the birds are still abundant, they gather in large flocks up to hundred birds outside the breeding season. Australian cranes are no migratory birds, but they move between their breeding sites and flocking areas.

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Copyright © 2007- Rita Amend.