Baillons Crake (Porzana pusilla)

Baillons Crake

[order] GRUIFORMES | [family] Rallidae | [latin] Porzana pusilla | [UK] Baillons Crake | [FR] Marouette de Baillon | [DE] Zwerg-Sumpfhuhn | [ES] Polluela Chica | [NL] Kleinst Waterhoen


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Porzana pusilla EU, AF, OR, AU widespread
Porzana pusilla affinis New Zealand, Chatham Is.
Porzana pusilla intermedia Europe and n Africa to Asia Minor n Africa
Porzana pusilla mayri New Guinea
Porzana pusilla mira Borneo
Porzana pusilla obscura e and s Africa, Madagascar
Porzana pusilla palustris e New Guinea, Australia
Porzana pusilla pusilla c and e Asia s and se Asia

Physical charateristics

Sexes similar but female often has rufous brown streak, from over ear to complete eyestripe. Pale patch on chin larger in female and in both sexes in non-breeding season.
Separable on plumage, size and structure from sympatric congeners. Legs and feet often said to be flesh-colored, but usually greenish grey, olive or yellowish.
Races separated on size and color, intermedia largest with underpart barring extending further up belly, palustris small and pale, mira has white throat and breast.

Listen to the sound of Baillons Crake

[audio: Crake.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 32 cm wingspan max.: 36 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 16 days
fledging min.: 32 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 8  


Eurasia, Africa, Oriental Region, Australasia : widespread


Freshwater to saline, permanent to ephemera palustrine wetlands with dens vegetation and often floating pans, including marshes, swamps and margins of open water.


Breeding starts May-July in Europe, April-June in North Africa. May-Jul in Europe, Apr-Jun in N Africa, May-Aug in Japan and Sep-Jan in Australia. Nests during or just after wet season. Monogamous and territorial. Pair-bond maintained only while breeding. Nest is a shallow cup or platform of material available nearby, often with vegetation pulled over to form canopy.
The nest is built on the ground in thick vegetation close to water, in soft grass or or tussock in water. 4-11 eggs are laid, incubation lasts 16-20 days and tended to by both sexes. Chick has bottle-green gloss, iris bluish brown to black, bill bone white to straw yellow, legs and feet grey-brown to black. First breeding after 1 year.

Feeding habits

Mostly aquatic insects, also molluscs, crustaceans, small fish, green plant and seeds.
Forages on mud, probing and taking prey from surface, and in shallow water, occasionally to belly depth, immersing bill to seize prey.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Porzana pusilla is a widespread but patchily distributed summer visitor to much of
southern and eastern Europe, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global
breeding range. Its European breeding population is very small (as few as 760 pairs),
but was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species declined in a number of
countries during 1990-2000, no trend data were available for its Russian stronghold.
Nevertheless, its population size renders it susceptible to the risks affecting small
populations, and consequently the species is provisionally evaluated as Rare.
This small rail has a very fragmented distribution in Europe, Asia reaching 55N, Australia, and northern, eastern and Southern Africa. Its European populations are wintering in the Mediterranean region and in sub-Saharan Africa. The breeding population of the European Union is estimated at 3000-5000 pairs. Being very difficult to observe, its trends are not well known, but a global decline seems to be most probable due to wetland reclamation
Baillons Crake status Least Concern


Migratory, but big gaps in knowledge because of skulking nature; in practice, the least known of west Palearctic Rallidae. Marked southward withdrawal in autumn, though exceptional December-January records exist for Europe north to Britain where only a vagrant. Migrants occur along full length of Mediterranean basin, but winter distribution still conjectural. Trans-Saharan migration indicated by March-April oasis records from Libya and Algeria. Thus main winter quarters of European birds probably in sub-Saharan Africa, where indistinguishable (except in the hand) from resident breeding population.

Distribution map

Baillons Crake distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *