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: 02 Apr 2020


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

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthMoonie-Barwon Interfluve Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNarrandool Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Outwash Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Known None
Broken Hill ComplexScopes Range Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Known None
Channel CountryBulloo Dunefields Known None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Known None
Channel CountryCore Ranges Predicted None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Known None
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainBoorindal Plains Known None
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Cobar PeneplainNymagee Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCulgoa-Bokhara Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsGreat Darling Anabranch Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsLouth Plains Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsMenindee Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsPooncarie-Darling Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsWarrambool-Moonie Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsWilcannia Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsCuttaburra-Paroo Known None
Mulga LandsKerribree Basin Known None
Mulga LandsNebine Plains Known None
Mulga LandsParoo Overflow Known None
Mulga LandsParoo-Darling Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsUrisino Sandplains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Plains Known None
Mulga LandsWarrego Sands Known None
Mulga LandsWest Warrego Known None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Known None
Murray Darling DepressionDarling Depression Known None
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Predicted None
NandewarPeel Predicted None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Known None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known None
NSW South Western SlopesCapertee Valley Predicted None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
OceanTweed-Moreton Known None
Ocean - Other StateSouthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
RiverinaLachlan Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known None
RiverinaMurray Scroll Belt Predicted None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
RiverinaRobinvale Plains Predicted None
Simpson Strzelecki DunefieldsStrzelecki Desert Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsCapertee Uplands Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Predicted None