September: Blue Crane Moon

September is National Heritage Month and September 24 is Heritage Day! Heritage Month recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa.

The blue crane (Anthropoides paradisea or Stanley Crane) is the National Bird of South Africa. These graceful animals mate for life and they nest and breed between September and February. It is also the world’s most range-restricted crane and is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The Blue Crane (indwe in the Xhosa and Zulu languages) is culturally significant to both the Xhosa and Zulu people where it is associated with warriors and heroism. Isithwalandwe (“the one who wears the plumes of the rare bird”) is a traditional honour among Xhosas and Zulus, bestowed on the bravest warriors and on those showing exceptional qualities of leadership and heroism.

In /Xam mythology the blue crane is the sister of Mantis.

Place names associated with the blue crane:

Caledon Blue Crane Route although spectacular all year round is best viewed in late winter and early spring, when the yellow canola flowers are in blossom and the Southern Right Whale watching is at its peak.

Southernmost Blue Crane Route is part of the Cape Agulhas Wool Route which promotes agri-tourism with local farmers.

The Xairu Blue Crane Route is located in and around the town of Heidelberg, which is about 276 km east of Cape Town on the N2.

The Blue Crane Route in the Eastern follows the national road R63 from Pearston, via Somerset East, to Cookhouse and is part of a tourism initiative by the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality.

Indwe is a town in the Emalahleni Local Municipality of the Eastern Cape Province situated about 40 km south-east of Dordrecht. It was founded in 1896 as a centre for low-grade coal-mining activities. The name is thought to be derived from ‘iNdweʼ the Xhosa name for the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea).

During the period 2020 – 2050, the Blue Crane Moon appears only twice.

The first Full Moon in September is the Spring Moon.

Dates of Blue Crane Moon

2031 Sep 30, 21:00

2050 Sep 30, 19:36

Further reading

National Heritage Month

  • Chittenden, H. (2007), Roberts’ Bird Guide. A comprehensive field guide to over 950 bird species in southern Africa of Southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelecker Bird Book Fund.
  • Hollmann, J.C. (Editor) Customs and Beliefs of the /Xam Bushmen. Wits University Press, Johannesburg.
  • Koopman, Adrian (2017). “Isithwalandwe: The wearing of the crane feather” Natalia, No 47, pp 43–46.
  • South African History Online. “Isitwalandwe / Seaparankoe the Highest Award of Honour, 1955 – 2014”.
  • Wildenboer, Norma (2015 Feb 16) Blue crane massacre. Diamond Fields Advertiser.

Heritage Full Moons in South Africa

MonthFirst Full MoonSecond Full Moon
JanuaryMantis MoonLeopard Moon
FebruaryDassie Moon——
MarchHarvest MoonOchre Moon
AprilDiamond MoonGold Moon
MayFrost MoonFire Moon
JuneSisters MoonHoney Moon
JulyMeerkat MoonProtea Moon
AugustPeace MoonDusty Moon
SeptemberSpring MoonBlue Crane Moon
OctoberWhale MoonElephant Moon
NovemberMilk MoonWool Moon
DecemberSpringbok MoonEland Moon

Protecting South Africa’s astronomical heritage

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