Crested symbols

To kill it is to face imprisonment. Its name is written on the back of the national team football jerseys and its silhouette stands in the middle of the national flag.

But the Crested Crane, the national bird of Uganda, has no idea of this celebrity. It modestly nests on the ground in tall grass located near water according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Two Crested Cranes flying over a swampy patch in the Nile River. Picture taken by TIm Guthrie

While the picture above is taken over the Nile, the Crested Crane’s habitat extends from Zimbabwe to South Africa. Being near the equator, it does not migrate like the birds I am used to in North America. If it moves, it is usually in search of food or safety from human encroachment.

Our tour guide traveling up the Nile River said that the cranes pick a partner and mate for life. He also highlighted that like the native Ugandans, they are communal. They roost in large groups, sometimes up to 200 birds.

Possibly this is one of the reasons that the bird is displayed prominently on the Ugandan flag. A certain reason is that its plumage conveniently contains all the colors of the flag. Our guide for the trip, Herbert, also stated that the crane is depicted on the flag with one leg up to represent that Uganda is always moving forward. Jokingly he added that he sometimes is not sure what this “forward” leads to.

The national flag of Uganda. Picture taken from Wikipedia.

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