Buff-spotted flufftail

Buff-spotted flufftail
Sarothrura elegans

Photo by Hugh Chittenden (World Bird Info)

Common name:
buff-spotted flufftail (en); frango-d’água-elegante (pt); râle ponctué (fr); polluela elegante (es); tropfenralle (de)

Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

This species is patchilly distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, from Guinea to Ethiopia and south to Zimbabwe, western and southern Mozambique and eastern South Africa.

These bird are 15-17 cm long and weigh 40-60 g.

The buff-spotted flufftail is found in forests, thick scrublands, requiring dense overhead and ground cover with soft earth, moss or leaf-litter for foraging. They also use banana and arrowroot plantations and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.200 m.

They feed on various invertebrates, such as ants, termites, cockroaches, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, bugs, springtails, small snails, earthworms, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, nematodes, slugs, amphipods and woodlice. They also take some grass seeds, such as bugweed and pigeonwood.

Buff-spotted flufftails breed in September-April. They are monogamous and nest in solitary pairs. The nest is built by the female, consisting of a domed structure with an entrance hole at one end, usually made of dead leaves or grass, twigs, moss and bark, and lined with fine grass, rootlets, moss or leaf fragments. It is typically placed in a shallow excavated depression, well concealed beneath dense cover such as forest grass Oplismenus hirtellus or herbaceous creepers. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 15-16 days. The chicks leave the nest 1-2 days after hatching, but continue to be fed and brooded by the parents. They fledge 19-21 days after hatching. Each pair can raise up to 4 broods per season.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range. There is no information on population sizes or relative abundance, but is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In fact, this species is increasing in some areas of South Africa. In some areas they are preyed upon by feral cats.

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