Striped crake

Striped crake
Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

Photo by John Carlyon (Zest for Birds)

Common name:
striped crake (en); franga d’água-estriada (pt); marouette rayée (fr); polluela culirroja (es); graukehl-sumpfhuhn (de)

Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

This species is patchily distributed in West Africa, from Ghana to Congo and also in the area from Uganda, Kenya and eastern D.R. Congo, south through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and northern Mozambique and into northern Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

These birds are 18-21 cm long.

The striped crake is mostly found in seasonally flooded grasslands with marsh grasses, but also in shallow lakes and rivers, abandoned rice fields and nearby savanna.

They feed on invertebrates, such as beetles, grasshoppers, moths, flies, spiders, snails and earthworms, and also small fishes and tadpoles.

Striped crakes are polyandrous, with each female mating with multiple males and having no further part in the breeding process after laying. In southern Africa they breed in December-March. The nest is a small saucer-shaped structure, built of dry grass and concealed in a grass tuft, where the female lays 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 17-18 days. The chicks leave the nest 4-5 days after hatching and rely on the father for protection until fledging, which takes place 46-53 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range but the global population is estimated at just 670-17.000 individuals. The population is thought to be in decline owing to continued habitat loss and degradation through overgrazing, damming, draining and cultivation of seasonal and ephemeral wetlands, but it is not considered threatened at present.

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