The Brolga (Grus rubicunda), formerly known as the "Native Companion", is a bird in the crane family. The bird has also been given the name "Australian Crane", a term coined in 1865 by well-known ornithological artist John Gould in his Birds of Australia.
The Brolga is a common gregarious wetland bird species in tropical and eastern Australia, well known for its intricate mating dance. It is the official bird emblem of the state of Queensland.
When first described by the naturalist George Perry in 1810, the Brolga was misclassified as Ardea, the genus that includes the herons and egrets. It is in fact a member of the Gruiformes—the order that includes the crakes, rails, and cranes, and a member of the genus Grus. The Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union made Brolga, a popular name derived from Gamilaraay burralga, the official name of the bird in 1926.
The Brolga, Sarus Crane (Grus antigone), and White-naped Crane (G. vipio) were seen as forming a natural group on the basis of similarities in calls in 1976. This was further confirmed by molecular studies of DNA. It is unclear which two of the three species are most closely related.
The full-grown Brolga is a tall, mid-grey to silver-grey crane, 0.7–1.3 m (3.3–4.3 ft) high, with a wingspan of 1.7–2.4 m (5.6–7.9 ft), and a broad red band extending from the straight, bone-coloured bill around the back of the head. Juveniles lack the red band. Adult males average at a little under 7 kg (15 lb), females a little under 6 kg (13 lb). The weight can range from 3.7 to 8.7 kg (8.1-19.2 lb).
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