Nature conservation

Threatened species

Brolga - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Grus rubicunda
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 20 May 2014


The Brolga is quite unmistakable in southern Australia. (Australia’s only other crane, the Sarus Crane, is found only in far northern Australia.) It is a huge bird - one of Australia’s largest flying birds - standing 1.3 metres tall with a wingspan of nearly 2.5 metres. It is pale bright grey with a broad band of bare red skin from the beak round the nape of the neck and a black dewlap under the chin. The long legs are black. Young birds are darker, without the red band or the dewlap. The call is a far-carrying brassy trumpeting.


The Brolga was formerly found across Australia, except for the south-east corner, Tasmania and the south-western third of the country. It is still abundant in the northern tropics, but very sparse across the southern part of its range.

Habitat and ecology

  • Though Brolgas often feed in dry grassland or ploughed paddocks or even desert claypans, they are dependent on wetlands too, especially shallow swamps, where they will forage with their head entirely submerged.
  • They feed using their heavy straight bill as a ‘crowbar’ to probe the ground or turn it over, primarily on sedge roots and tubers. They will also take large insects, crustaceans, molluscs and frogs.
  • The famous Brolga ‘dance’ is apparently at least in part a courtship or bonding display where a pair or many pairs face each other, crouch down and stretch upwards, trumpet, leap and toss grass and sticks into the air.
  • The nest comprises a platform of grasses and sticks, augmented with mud, on an island or in the water. Two eggs are laid from winter to autumn.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

CMA CMA sub-region Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Border Rivers-GwydirCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Border Rivers-GwydirGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Known None
Central WestBathurst Predicted None
Central WestBogan-Macquarie Known None
Central WestCanbelego Downs Known None
Central WestCapertee Predicted None
Central WestCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Central WestHill End Predicted None
Central WestKerrabee Predicted None
Central WestLower Slopes Known None
Central WestNymagee-Rankins Springs Predicted None
Central WestOberon Predicted None
Central WestPilliga Known None
Central WestPilliga Outwash Known None
Central WestTalbragar Valley Predicted None
Central WestUpper Slopes Predicted None
LachlanBarnato Downs Predicted None
LachlanDarling Depression (Part A) Known None
LachlanDarling Depression (Part B) Known None
LachlanLachlan Known None
LachlanLachlan Plains Known None
LachlanLower Slopes Known None
LachlanNymagee-Rankins Springs Known None
LachlanSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands Predicted None
LachlanUpper Slopes Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingBarrier Range Outwash, Fans and Plains Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingGreat Darling Anabranch Predicted None
Lower Murray-DarlingLachlan (Part A) Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingLachlan (Part B) Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingMenindee Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingMurray Scroll Belt Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingPooncarie-Darling Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingRobinvale Plains (Part B) Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands (Part A) Predicted None
Lower Murray-DarlingSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands (Part B) Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands (Part C) Predicted None
Lower Murray-DarlingSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands (Part D) Known None
Lower Murray-DarlingSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands (Part E) Known None
MurrayLower Slopes Known None
MurrayMurray Fans Known None
MurrayMurrumbidgee Known None
MurrayUpper Slopes Known None
MurrumbidgeeDarling Depression Known None
MurrumbidgeeLachlan Known None
MurrumbidgeeLachlan Plains Predicted None
MurrumbidgeeLower Slopes Known None
MurrumbidgeeMurrumbidgee Known None
MurrumbidgeeSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands (Part A) Predicted None
MurrumbidgeeSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands (Part B) Predicted None
MurrumbidgeeUpper Slopes Known None
NamoiCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
NamoiLiverpool Plains (Part A) Predicted None
NamoiLiverpool Plains (Part B) Predicted None
NamoiNorthern Basalts Predicted None
NamoiPeel Predicted None
NamoiPilliga (Part A) Predicted None
NamoiPilliga (Part B) Predicted None
NamoiPilliga Outwash Known None
Northern RiversClarence Lowlands Known None
Northern RiversClarence Sandstones Known None
Northern RiversCoffs Coast & Escarpment Known None
Northern RiversMacleay Hastings Known None
Northern RiversMurwillumbah (Qld - Southeast Hills and Ranges) Known None
Northern RiversRichmond - Tweed (Qld - Scenic Rim) (Part A) Predicted None
Northern RiversYuraygir Known None
WesternBarnato Downs (Part A) Predicted None
WesternBarnato Downs (Part B) Predicted None
WesternBarrier Range Predicted None
WesternBarrier Range Outwash, Fans and Plains (Part B) Predicted None
WesternBarrier Range Outwash, Fans and Plains (Part C) Known None
WesternBogan-Macquarie Known None
WesternBoorindal Plains (Part A) Predicted None
WesternBoorindal Plains (Part B) Predicted None
WesternBulloo Dunefields Known None
WesternBulloo Overflow Known None
WesternCanbelego Downs Known None
WesternCastlereagh-Barwon (Part A) Known None
WesternCastlereagh-Barwon (Part B) Predicted None
WesternCentral Depression Known None
WesternCentral Downs - Fringing Tablelands and Downs Known None
WesternCore Ranges (Part 13A) Known None
WesternCore Ranges (Part A) Predicted None
WesternCulgoa-Bokhara Known None
WesternDarling Depression Predicted None
WesternKerribree Basin Known None
WesternLouth Plains Known None
WesternMenindee Predicted None
WesternMoonie - Barwon Interfluve, Collarenebri Interfluve Known None
WesternMootwingee Downs Predicted None
WesternNarrandool 21 Known None
WesternNebine Plains, Block Range (Part A) Predicted None
WesternNebine Plains, Block Range (Part B) Known None
WesternNymagee-Rankins Springs Predicted None
WesternParoo Overflow Known None
WesternParoo Sand Sheets, Cuttaburra-Paroo Known None
WesternParoo-Darling Sands Known None
WesternScopes Range Predicted None
WesternSouth Olary Plain, Murray Basin Sands Predicted None
WesternStrzelecki Desert, Western Dunefields Known None
WesternUrisino Sandplains Known None
WesternWarrambool-Moonie Predicted None
WesternWarrego Plains (Part A) Known None
WesternWarrego Plains (Part B) Known None
WesternWarrego Sands Known None
WesternWest Warrego - Tablelands and Downs (Part A) Known None
WesternWest Warrego - Tablelands and Downs (Part B) Known None
WesternWest Warrego - Tablelands and Downs (Part C) Known None
WesternWhite Cliffs Plateau Known None
WesternWilcannia Plains Predicted None