Monday, 13 December 2010

Black crake

Amaurornis flavirostris

Common name:
black crake (en); franga-d'água-preta (pt); râle à bec jaune (fr); polluela negra africana (es); mohrensumpfhuhn (de)

Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

This African species is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, except in very arid areas.

The black crake is 19-23 cm long and has a wingspan of 25 cm. These birds weigh up 125 g.

They occur on a variety of wetland habitats, requiring moderate vegetation cover and some degree of permanent flooding. Suitable habitats include flowing and still inland freshwaters, the margins of coastal lagoons and estuarine waters, ponds with floating vegetation and the interior of dense or extensive reedbeds, as well as dense undergrowth in boggy forest clearings, or the margins of swampy forest streams.

They mostly eat worms, molluscs, crustaceans, adult and larval insects, small fish, small frogs and tadpoles. They also hunt the eggs and nestlings of weavers and herons, and eat seeds and other parts of water plants.

The black crake is monogamous. The nest is built by both sexes, a deep neat bowl placed on the ground, made up of figs, straw and leaves, often under a bush for protection. Each clutch consists of 2-6 cream or white eggs with brown spots. The eggs are incubated for 13-19 days by both parents, sometimes assisted by the young from previous broods. The precocial chicks leave the nest in 1–3 days, but are fed by parents and helpers for 6-12 weeks.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Although this species is suffering from the loss of their wetland habitats, they have a very wide breeding range and a minimum population of 1 million, so the species is not considered threatened at present.

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