There is perhaps no more stately Australian bird than the pale grey, long legged Brolga. When dancing, Brolgas line up roughly opposite each other before starting movements: they step forwards on the long, stilt legs with wings half-open and shaking. Bowing and bobbing their heads advance and retire. Now and then the bird will stop and, throwing its head back trumpet wildly. They sometimes leap into the air a meter or so and parachute back to the ground using their broad wings. The Brolga is sensitive to habitat impacts and changes such as loss of shallow marshes, which they use for breeding and altered flows of waterways. Populations have been significantly reduced since European settlement. They are the only crane endemic to the Australian region and tend to migrate between breeding and non-breeding sites.
Brolgas are found in open swamplands of coastal and sub coastal tropical Australia, ranging from the eastern interior to a small local population through Murray Darling Basin and Western Victoria.
Brolgas feed on tubers of sedges, which they dig up from underground with their bills. They also take grain, mollusks and insects.
The Brolga breeds between September and December in the south and February to June in the North. In the wet seasons, Brolgas return to their breeding grounds in shallow swamplands and space themselves out in pairs to nest. They build a platform of dry grass and sedges about 1.5m diameter. Usually two cream eggs with reddish markings are laid and both sexes incubate them for 28-30 days.
The Brolga and other cranes have elaborate courtship displays. This mating dance is what Brolgas are most famous for. With wings spread and facing each other, the two Brolgas jump, dance and pirouette, prance about and perform with a lot of head movement. Brolgas will often jump a metre into the air with wings outspread, or they will beat their wings whilst taking a few steps forward. At the same time they make loud trumpeting calls to each other. Although primarily a mating ritual, such displays do occur all year round, but to a much lesser degree.
Age: 23 Years (DOB 1/2/1992)
Bruce is one of our four Brolgas. Bruce the Brolga has quite a reputation here at the Zoo and most of the tales are true! This bloke wakes up every day in a bad mood and leaves his cranky head on all day! Bruce hatched in the wild in early 1992, but didn't arrive at the Zoo until April 1993. All in all, he has been part of the Australia Zoo family for well over a decade, so you can imagine the yarns and tall stories that have become legend within that time.
Bruce has his admirers; he is, after all, tough as nails and his no-nonsense attitude is respected by all. He fights like Bruce Lee and has made many a grown man and woman turn tail and take flight. For this reason, there are staff members who would prefer to avoid him! We should point out that Bruce's cranky nature is not entirely his fault; he is just a bit confused. Bruce is what we call an 'imprinted' bird. In short, he has been hand-raised and nurtured due to injuries to his leg and wing, sustained from falling from the nest. He is a lucky fella, just unsure whether he is human or one of the birds, and to add to his confusion, he arrived with a girl's name, Rosie. So in the end, who can really blame him for having a chip on his shoulder? Bruce Rules!
We had better give you the run down on our resident rockin' boy brolga with the cool moves who whipped 'Woodstock' off her feet when he arrived. You should see the 'grooving' and 'getting down' these two get up to, when the wind gets up and the mood takes hold.
Elvis is a strapping young bloke, who landed here from Taronga Zoo, in Sydney NSW. He has been with us since 2002 and spent this time wining and dining 'Woodstock'. If all his sweet talking pays off, we hope one day we'll have more brolgas to join in the parties, down in the wetlands.
Marilyn is a gorgeous sheila with a slender build and long legs that seem to go on forever! Most of the time she is an absolute sweetie with a pleasant nature, but come tucker time she transforms; something like Jeckle and Hyde! Yep, Marilyn is another imprinted bird, so when she is hungry she is not backwards in letting you know and if you check her beak out, you can see that she is certainly capable of giving you a hurry up! We do still have a soft spot for her though - we just have to keep our wits about us.