Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)

Spotted Crake

[order] GRUIFORMES | [family] Rallidae | [latin] Porzana porzana | [UK] Spotted Crake | [FR] Marouette ponctuee | [DE] Tupfel-Sumpfhuhn | [ES] Polluela Pintoja | [NL] Porseleinhoen


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Rather plump crake, readily distinguished from sympatric rallids on size, lack of extensive grey on underparts, buff undertail-coverts. Yellow bill with greenish tip and orange-red spot at base of upper mandible.
White leading edge to wing well visible in flight.
Sexes similar, male in non-breeding plumage has les grey and more spotting on face and underparts, female has less grey and more spots than male on these areas in color of undertail-coverts from dark feather tips to black and white barring.

Listen to the sound of Spotted Crake

[audio: Crake.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 34 cm wingspan max.: 40 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 23 cm
incubation min.: 18 days incubation max.: 19 days
fledging min.: 25 days fledging max.: 19 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 10  
      eggs max.: 12  


Eurasia : West, Central


Freshwater wetlands with dense cover of sedges and rushes, grass and other emergents, sometimes with trees. Frequents areas where substrate moist, muddy or flooded.
Occurs in marshes and fens, at sewage ponds, pools in flooded grassland and at margins of dams, lakes and sluggish rivers.


Breeding starts April-July in Europe. Monogamous, pair-bond maintained only during breeding season. Territorial when breeding and also in winter quarters. Nest is a thick-walled cup of dead leaves and stems of available vegetation, placed in thick vegetation close to or over standing water, in tussock or built up well above water level, concealing vegetation often pulled over to form canopy. Both sexes build. Usually 8-12 eggs, incubation 18-24 days by both sexes. Black downy chick has green gloss on head, throat and upperparts, iris grey to brown-black, upper mandible red at base yellow in middle and white at tip.
Age of first breeding 1 year. Usually double brooded.

Feeding habits

Omnivorous, mainly small aquatic invertebrates and parts of aquatic plants.
Takes earthworms, molluscs, insects and small fish stranded in drying pools.
Plant material includes algae, shoots, leaves and roots, and seeds.
Forages in water up to 5-7 cm deep, and on wet to dry mud, picks food from surface of substrate and immerses head in water. Most active early and late in the day.


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 appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not 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 porzana is scattered thinly across much of Europe, which constitutes >50%
of its global breeding range. The European breeding population is relatively large
(>120,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines
in certain countries?notably Ukraine?during 1990-2000, key populations in Russia,
Belarus and Romania were broadly stable or increased, and the species remained
stable overall.
This rail inhabits flooded grasslands and shallow marshes with less than 30 cm of standing water, avoiding deep Phragmites or Typha reed beds. Its distribution includes a major part of Europe, north to 65

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