Are these two birds having a bad feather day? Not at all! Salem and Shiloh are African crowned cranes, an endangered species named for the golden “crown” of feathers on their heads. They are the national birds of Uganda and are featured on the country’s flag.
Found in the wetlands and grasslands of eastern and southern Africa, these colorful cranes often follow migrating herds of herbivores to eat critters disturbed by their movement. They have a six-foot wingspan and are one of only two species of cranes capable of perching in trees. They have long hind toes that other cranes lack.
While African crowned cranes travel in flocks of 30–150 birds, they pair up during breeding season and often mate for life. Couples spend their days engaging in elaborate dances involving head-bobbing, wing-fluttering, bows, leaps, and pirouettes. Visitors to the Ararat Ridge Zoo are captivated by the flamboyant dances of our cranes! Pairs also perform “unison calls” where males make long, low calls while females emit short, high-pitched calls. Their songs can be heard over three miles away!
The 15 species of cranes are the world’s largest flying birds and have been featured in mythology and art throughout history. They symbolize traits like eternal youth, good fortune, happiness, joy, longevity, love, luck, and peace. In fact, Salem and Shiloh both translate as “peace.” Sadly, all 15 species of cranes today are threatened, endangered, or critically endangered. Since humans are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27), we are called to be good stewards of his creation (Genesis 1:28). We can exercise that mandate by taking steps to protect endangered species like cranes.
Unlike land animals which were created on day six of creation week (Genesis 1:24–25), birds like cranes were created on day five along with aquatic life (Genesis 1:20–23). Many evolutionists today teach that dinosaurs evolved into birds, but the Bible tells us that birds were created before land animals like dinosaurs, so that cannot be true.
Salem and Shiloh have been together their entire lives. While they have identical plumage, our male, Salem, is taller than our female, Shiloh. Salem likes to dance, while Shiloh prefers to sing. Despite Salem’s larger size, Shiloh is the braver of the two and is not afraid to investigate new things. Once Salem sees that Shiloh is safe, he will follow along. We are hoping for some blue eggs in the future!