Standing at 1.3 metres tall and with a wingspan of nearly 2.5 metres, the long-legged brolga (Grus rubicund) is unmistakable in southern Australia and famed for its elegant courtship “dance”. But this brolga grey crane, one of only two cranes found in Australia, is a vulnerable animal (endangered) in NSW and its trumpeting call is far less common.
The brolga was once found all over Australia. While the brolga remains abundant in the northern tropics, it is now sparsely distributed across the southern portion of its range.
The brolga is a large bird and feeds on sedge roots, insects and tubers in dry grassland, ploughed paddocks or desert claypans. The Brolga is also dependent on wetlands for its food and commonly forages in shallow swamps for crustaceans, molluscs and frogs.
Threats to the brolga
Historically, brolgas were poisoned or shot when they intruded on crops, but loss of their wetland habitat through land clearing and draining for flood mitigation and agriculture has exacted a far greater toll.
Solutions – What can be done?
The key to brolga recovery is retaining or reintroducing water flows to its wetland habitats and putting a stop to illegal persecution.
The Nature Conservation Trust’s conservation work on private lands is helping to protect habitat for the brolga.