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Grey crowned crane at Martin Mere.JPG
Grey crowned crane
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Gruidae
Subfamily: Balearicinae
Genus: Balearica
Brisson, 1760

Balearica pavonina
Balearica regulorum



The bird genus Balearica (also called the crowned cranes) contains two extant species in the crane family Gruidae: the black crowned crane (B. pavonina) and the grey crowned crane (B. regulorum).[1]

The species today occur only in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert, and are the only cranes that can nest in trees. This habitat is one reason the relatively small Balearica cranes are believed to closely resemble the ancestral members of the Gruidae.

Like all cranes, they eat insects, reptiles, and small mammals.


The crane family (Gruidae) is divided into the subfamily Gruinae of typical cranes and the subfamily Balearicinae of crowned cranes.[2]

Fossil record[edit]

Crowned cranes seem to have been more widespread prehistorically. Compared to the true cranes, genus Grus, which were always common in the Holarctic and adjacent regions, the present genus appears to have had a more Atlantic distribution, ranging into Europe and North America; it is not known from the fossil record of Asia.

  • Balearica rummeli (Early Miocene of Germany) – formerly Basityto
  • Balearica excelsa (Early–Middle Miocene of France) – formerly Grus and Ornithocnemus
  • Balearica exigua (Miocene of Nebraska)