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The blue crane (Anthropoides paradiseus), also known as the Stanley crane and the paradise crane, is the national bird of South Africa. The name Stanley is in honour of E.S. Stanley, President of the Zoological society of London from 1831 to 1851. It is a tall, ground-dwelling bird which stands a little over a metre high and is pale blue-grey in colour with a white crown, a pink bill, and long, dark gray wingtip feathers which trail to the ground. They are altitudinal migrants, generally nesting in the upper grasslands and moving down to lower altitudes for winter. The Blue Crane is a bird very special to the amaXhosa – a Bantu ethnic group of South Africa – who call it indwe. When a man distinguished himself by deeds of valour, or any form of meritorious conduct, he was often decorated by a chief by being presented with the feathers of this bird. After a battle, the chief would organise a ceremony called ukundzabela – a ceremony for the heroes, at which feathers would be presented. Men so honoured – they wore the feathers sticking out of their hair – were known as men of ugaba (trouble) - the implication being that if trouble arose, these men would reinstate peace and order.
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