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Belgium’s cranes take flight for the first time

Two birds thought t0 be the first Common Cranes born in Belgium have spread their wings and taken flight from their home in the valley of the Zwarte Beek in the province of Limburg, but they won’t be going far quite yet.

Gru and Dru, born in Spring 2021, are somewhat an anomaly as despite flying to Belgium most years during their summer and winter migrations there’s no record of cranes ever nesting and breeding in Belgium before.

This story has been a long time coming, with the parents first landing in the valley in 2019 for a brief period of time. When they returned in 2020 they built a nest, but no breeding ensued. By 2021, the birds successfully mated, resulting in the birth of the two now-famous chicks.

This special occasion meant that the Natuurpunt team of observers kept a close eye on Gru and Dru as they grew from fluffy chicks to the birds we see today. While not yet at full maturity, the “two are doing well and have grown considerably,” according to Natuurpunt, which says it will keep the location of the birds a secret to protect them from disturbances.

So What’s next?

“They will probably stay in the breeding area until October, and after that, the family should connect with migrating cranes from the North,” Birdlife explained. “Another possibility is that they will choose to stay in Zwarte Beek for the winter, or make temporary trips to Germany, as has been observed with other birds just over the border.”

Territorial behaviour towards their nest site also means that there is a good chance the parents will return to the valley next year, though it remains to be seen if Gru and Dru will join them.