Black Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina)
The species today occur only in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert, and are the only cranes that can nest in trees. This habitat is one reason why the relatively small Balearica cranes are believed to closely resemble the ancestral members of the Gruidae.
The Gruidae family is divided into the subfamily Gruinae of typical cranes and the subfamily Balearicinae of crowned cranes.
Crowned cranes seem to have been more widespread prehistorically. Compared to the true cranes, genus Grus, which were always common in the Holarctic and adjacent regions, the present genus appears to have had a more Atlantic distribution, ranging into Europe and North America; it is not known from the fossil record of Asia.
Extant Black Crowned Crane (Linnaeus, 1758) (Balearica pavonina) Grey Crowned Crane (Bennett, 1834) (Balearica regulorum) Extinct †Balearica excelsa (Early–Middle Miocene of France) (formerly Grus and Ornithocnemus) †Balearica exigua (Miocene of Nebraska) †Balearica rummeli (Early Miocene of Germany) (formerly Basityto)