Blue Crane, the national bird of South Africa.

Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus).

The Blue Crane used to nest on my old farm, where I managed to capture them on film (I mean old time photographs), these I lost when our house was flooded and everything went floating down the river.

The photos I captured recently in a conservation area, a beautiful bird that stands proudly, till a parachutist flies overhead. I was astounded when these birds standing calmly started to get very agitated and were watching the sky. Expecting to capture an eagle of sorts I looked up, and there was this person floating past with a parachute. Where he came from, and where he went, I have no idea..

The Blue Crane is a tall, ground-dwelling bird, but is fairly small by the standards of the crane family. It is 100–120 cm (3 ft. 3 in–3 ft. 10 in) tall, with a wingspan of 180–200 cm (5 ft. 10 in–6 ft. 7 in) and weighs 3.6–6.2 kg (7.9–14 lb.).

This crane is pale blue-grey in colour becoming darker on the upper head, neck and nape.  The bill is ochre to greyish, with a pink tinge. The long wingtip feathers, trail to the ground. The primaries are black to slate grey, with dark coverts and blackish on the secondary’s. Unlike most cranes, it has a relatively large head and a proportionately thin neck.

In South Africa it has a Cultural history…

The Blue Crane is a bird very special to the amaXhosa, who call it indwe. When a man distinguished himself by deeds of valour, or any form of meritorious conduct, he was often decorated by a chief, being presented with the feathers of this bird. After a battle, the chief would organise a ceremony called ukundzabela – a ceremony for the heroes, at which feathers would be presented. Men so honoured, 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. The Skull Crackers….

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