The gray-crowned crane (Balearica regulorum) is an omnivorous bird, adults usually about one meter tall, weighing 3.5 kg. They only pair up with one mate at a time. Gray-crowned cranes are fiercely territorial during their breeding period, which often occurs during the rainy season, when it is more difficult for predators to access wetlands. The cranes will separate, build nests in wetlands and lay about 4 eggs at a time.
The crowned crane is listed in the IUCN Red List and is protected by law in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya. They become very aggressive when defending their territory or defending their young.
Even animals as large as elephants do not faze the crowned crane. This incredible sight was captured by Tayla McCurdy in the Maasai Mara, in the Kruger Reserve.
Herds of elephants feed near the crown crane’s nest, and although they do not intend to harm the crane family, their large bodies can present an incalculable danger. The crowned crane spreads its wings to chase elephants away from their nest to protect the eggs inside.
The elephant seemed confused by the situation but it seemed to be quite curious as to why the bird was flapping its wings. In fact, this is a warning because the bird constantly rushes forward, flapping its wings and calling to protect its nest.
Eventually, the elephant became quite irritable and tried to push the bird away before wandering off, leaving the eggs safe. Although the elephant has left, there is still another pair of elephants near the nest that can bring trouble. The crowned crane continues to chase until there is no longer any threat. Finally, it left when it realized that there was no longer any danger.