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A photo of a Corn Crake (Crex crex)
Corn Crake

Corn Crake

Crex crex

The Corn Crake, also known as the Corncrake or Landrail (Crex crex), is a medium-sized bird belonging to the rail family. It exhibits brownish-black upperparts streaked with buff or grey, and its wings are adorned with chestnut markings. The underparts are a blue-grey hue, transitioning to rust-colored and white bars on the flanks and undertail. The bill is a robust, flesh-toned structure, the iris pale brown, and the legs and feet a pale grey. Juveniles resemble adults in plumage, while downy chicks are black, a common trait among rails.

Identification Tips

Males are distinguishable by their slightly larger size and more vivid upperparts compared to females. The Corn Crake's distinctive chestnut wing coverts and barred flanks aid in its identification. In flight, it reveals white edges on the inner wing and its legs dangle characteristically.


The Corn Crake favors grasslands, particularly hayfields for breeding, and similar environments during winter migration. It avoids very wet habitats and prefers areas with vegetation that is not too tall or dense to walk through.


This species breeds across Europe and Asia, extending to western China, and migrates to Africa for the Northern Hemisphere's winter. Its range includes lowlands and upland regions, with some populations nesting at high altitudes.


The Corn Crake is a secretive bird, often hidden within vegetation. It exhibits a high-stepping walk and can run swiftly through grass. When disturbed, it may take a weak, fluttering flight but is capable of stronger flight over longer distances, such as during migration.

Song & Calls

The male's call is a loud "krek krek," which establishes breeding territory and attracts females. This call can be heard from considerable distances and is used to census the species due to its elusive nature. The Corn Crake is silent during its time in Africa.


The Corn Crake's nest is a grassy hollow on the ground, where the female lays 6–14 cream-colored eggs with rufous blotches. Chicks are precocial and fledge after about five weeks. Breeding success is high in undisturbed sites but is threatened by modern farming practices.

Similar Species

The Corn Crake can be confused with the African Crake, but it is larger, paler, and has a different underparts pattern. Its closest relative is the African Crake, which shares its wintering range.

Diet and Feeding

An omnivorous bird, the Corn Crake primarily consumes invertebrates, small frogs, mammals, and various plant materials. It forages on the ground and within low vegetation, often pursuing active prey.

Conservation status

Although the Corn Crake has experienced declines in western Europe, it is classified as Least Concern due to its extensive range and large populations in Russia and Kazakhstan. Conservation efforts have led to population increases in some areas previously in decline.

Corn Crake Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Corn Crake Fun Facts

Did you know?
Corn Crakes can't fly until they are 35 days old however, the mother will normally abandon them after just 12 days!

Corn Crakes on Birda


More Rails, Crakes & Coots

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