Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Caledon Blue Crane Route
South Africa's national bird, also known as the 'five-cent bird' because it graces the flipside of our five-cent coin, is no stranger to the Overberg.
Where? The Caledon Area, Cape Overberg, Western Cape
When? This is a Self-drive route best diuring daylight hours
The beautifully regal Blue Crane loves the short grasslands. But up to 90% of the numbers of these birds have declined, in many cases because of power lines and poisoning from agrochemicals. They are now on a Red Data endangered list.
They are a beautiful bird, pale blue, with incredible tails. Their faces lack any coloration and when in danger they puff out the feathers on their heads so that they look more intimidating than they are. Blue cranes breed only once a year, produce two chicks at a time (many of these have fallen prey to the pet trade) and have an elaborate mating dance over a couple of weeks before any actual mating takes place.
The Caledon farmers grouped together to protect the Blue Crane bird and increase tourism in the area, establishing the Caledon Blue Crane Route, which allows visitors to see the blue crane in its natural environment, and encouraging the blue crane onto their farmlands.
By all means enjoy the cranes from your car. But they are easily startled, leaving freshly laid crane eggs prey to the elements and predators, so guidelines insist that you do not approach the cranes on foot, that you do not interfere with them in any way. If there is a problem and you find a blue crane that needs help in any way, please contact Cape Nature.
Although called the Caledon Blue Crane Route, this is not the only town in the Overberg where you will see the bird. In all the wheat fields around Stanford, Gansbaai, Napier, Elim, Arniston and Bredasdorp you may sight them, usually in groups of two or three, occasionally more.