White-breasted waterhen

White-breasted waterhen
Amaurornis phoenicurus
Photo by M.V. Sheeram (Flickr)

Common name:
white-breasted waterhen (en); franga-d’água-de-peito-branco (pt); râle à poitrine blanche (fr); gallineta pechiblanca (es); weißbrust-kielralle (de)

Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

This Asian species is found from Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, across India and southern China and as far east as Japan and as far south as southern Indonesia.

These birds are 28-33 cm long. Males tend to be larger than females, weighing 200-330 g while female weigh 165-225 g.

The white-breasted waterhen is found in a wide range of wetland habitats where water is surrounded by thick vegetation, namely marshes, swamps, bamboo stands, river banks, reedbeds, ponds and lakes, mangroves, wet grasslands and even along forests edges and scrubland far from water. They can also be found in arable land and waste water treatment areas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

They eat a wide range of aquatic invertebrates, including insects, worms, spiders, snails, and also small fishes and also the shoots and roots of marsh plants and grass seeds.

White-breasted waterhens can breed all year round, varying between different areas. the nest is a shallow cup made with twigs, stems or leaves, placed on the ground among reeds or other dense vegetation. There the female lays 4-9 brownish or grey eggs with reddish-brown markings, which are incubated by both sexes for 19-20 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and follow their parents around until they are able to fly. Each pair may raise up to 3 broods per year.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 10.000-100.000 individuals. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

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