Brolga FAQ 2
This page covers Brolga food, drinking, nesting and development. Size, calls, locations and population numbers are in FAQ 1, and an introduction to Brolgas and Sarus Cranes with comparison photos is on Ozcranes Australia/New Guinea Cranes Intro page.
Food & water
Brolgas drink and bathe every morning and evening, and during the day in hot weather. They are omnivorous, eating many foods: wetland plant tubers, grains (including crops), insects, spiders, molluscs, frogs, mice, snakes. Brolgas have glands near the eye that excrete salt, and can drink salt water.
Brolga hunting and eating a mussel (Rob Gray). Note the long tongue
Nests and eggs
Nesting is not colonial, each pair defends a nesting territory up to 300ha, containing one or several wetlands. Both sexes build the nest. It may be just a scrape in the ground but more usually, is a platform of grasses and other vegetation as wide as 142cm across, with a water ‘moat’ to 50cm deep. There are 1-3 (mostly 2) eggs, 95mm x 60mm, weighing 170-195g. Both sexes incubate, hatching is in about 30 days. Chicks leave the nest and can swim at only 1-2 days old.
Brolga turning eggs, NSW; Brolga chick swimming at under one week old (P Merritt)
Immature Brolgas scout for food in shallow swamp, NW Qld (Bob Forsyth) →
Both parents feed, brood and guard the young, which are fully-feathered at around 13 weeks and can fly soon after. They stay with their parents for up to 11 months until the next breeding season, and develop full head and leg colouring over the next 2-3 years. Brolgas pair at 3-4 years, and first breed successfully when 5 years old; they pair for life. View image of immature flightless Brolga with parent»