Which bird is designated as the state bird of Nigeria?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

Nigeria is a country located in West Africa. It has a diverse range of flora and fauna, including over 900 different species of birds. One of these birds has been designated as the state bird of Nigeria. In this article, we will explore which bird holds this honor, along with its characteristics, cultural significance, and conservation status.

Nigerian State Bird

The state bird of Nigeria is the Black Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina), also known as the West African Crowned Crane. This bird was chosen in 1978 to represent Nigeria as its national symbol. The Black Crowned Crane is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Sudan, but it is most commonly seen in Nigeria.

Criteria for Selection

The criteria for selecting the state bird of Nigeria included its cultural significance, popularity, aesthetic appeal, and geographical distribution. The bird had to be a resident or breeding visitor to Nigeria and be adaptable to Nigeria’s climate and habitat. It had to be an indigenous bird species that is not migratory, but remains in Nigeria throughout the year.

The Chosen Species

The Black Crowned Crane is a large bird that stands up to three feet tall and has a wingspan of up to six feet. It is easily distinguished by its black crown of feathers atop a white neck, and a red wattle that hangs from its throat. The body is a beautiful shade of gray, and the wings are adorned with black and white feathers. The Black Crowned Crane is known for its unusual dance, which involves bowing and jumping while flapping its wings.

Geographic Distribution

The Black Crowned Crane is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria being its most populous country. It prefers wetlands, marshes, and the edges of rivers and lakes as its habitat. It is most commonly seen in the northern and central parts of Nigeria, but can occasionally be seen in the southern regions.

Physical Description

In addition to its striking black and white crown of feathers, the Black Crowned Crane has a long, slender neck and a small head. Its legs are long and thin, and its feet are large and webbed, which makes it an efficient swimmer. The female is similar in appearance to the male, but is slightly smaller.

Nesting and Breeding Habits

The Black Crowned Crane is monogamous and mates for life. The pair builds its nest in wetlands near water sources, usually in tall grass or reeds. The female lays one or two eggs, which both parents incubate for around 30 days. The chicks are born covered in fluffy gray down, but they quickly grow and develop their feathers.

Diet and Feeding Habits

The Black Crowned Crane is omnivorous and feeds on a variety of foods, including insects, small reptiles, grass seeds, and small mammals. It uses its long beak to probe the ground and pick up small prey, and its long legs to wade through water. It is also known to eat crops and has been considered a pest by farmers.

Cultural Significance

The Black Crowned Crane has cultural significance in Nigeria and is a symbol of peace and good fortune. The bird’s dance is often seen as a representation of grace and beauty, and it is sometimes depicted in traditional Nigerian artwork. The Black Crowned Crane is also featured on the Nigerian coat of arms.

Conservation Status

The Black Crowned Crane is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The bird is threatened by habitat loss due to wetland destruction and agricultural development. It is also hunted for food and feathers, as well as captured for the pet trade. Conservation efforts include the protection of wetlands, the enforcement of hunting laws, and captive breeding programs.

Similarities with Other African Birds

The Black Crowned Crane shares similarities with other African birds, such as the Grey Crowned Crane and the Wattled Crane. These birds have similar physical characteristics and habitats, but differ in their geographic distribution and cultural significance.


The Black Crowned Crane is a beautiful and important bird that holds cultural significance in Nigeria. Its selection as the state bird of Nigeria was well-deserved, as it is a resident and breeding visitor to the country. Conservation efforts are necessary to ensure the protection of this Vulnerable species and its habitat.

Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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