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Scientific name: Grus rubicunda
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not Listed


The Brolga is quite unmistakable in southern Australia. (Australia’s only other crane, the Sarus Crane, is found only in far northern Australia.) It is a huge bird - one of Australia’s largest flying birds - standing 1.3 metres tall with a wingspan of nearly 2.5 metres. It is pale bright grey with a broad band of bare red skin from the beak round the nape of the neck and a black dewlap under the chin. The long legs are black. Young birds are darker, without the red band or the dewlap. The call is a far-carrying brassy trumpeting.
Species Profile - http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10382
Source: Curtis Hayne


The Brolga was formerly found across Australia, except for the south-east corner, Tasmania and the south-western third of the country. It is still abundant in the northern tropics, but very sparse across the southern part of its range. Large flocks can be found in and around our regional wetlands often feeding by day in cropping areas and roosting in the wetlands by night.

Habitat and ecology 

Though Brolgas often feed in dry grassland or ploughed paddocks, they are dependent on wetlands too, especially shallow swamps, where they will forage with their head entirely submerged and seek safety at night.
They feed using their heavy straight bill as a ‘crowbar’ to probe the ground or turn it over, primarily on sedge roots and tubers. They will also take large insects, crustaceans, molluscs and frogs.
The famous Brolga ‘dance’ is apparently at least in part a courtship or bonding display where a pair or many pairs face each other, crouch down and stretch upwards, trumpet, leap and toss grass and sticks into the air.
The nest comprises a platform of grasses and sticks, augmented with mud, on an reed island or in the wetlands water. Two eggs are laid from winter to autumn.
Source: Curtis Hayne
Source: Curtis Hayne


At least in former times, Brolgas were poisoned and shot because of their feeding incursions into crops, following drainage of swamps.
Loss of wetland habitat through land clearing, loss of wetland flows and draining for flood mitigation and agriculture.

Activities to assist this species 

Retain or reintroduce environmental water flow regimes to wetland habitat.
Monitor Brolga populations to identify any sign of illegal persecution.
Report persecution of Brolgas (and other native wildlife) to National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Recovery strategies 

A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program. For more information on the Saving Our Species program visit the link below:
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