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A photo of a Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
Spotted Crake

Spotted Crake

Porzana porzana

The Spotted Crake, Porzana porzana, is a diminutive member of the Rallidae family, evoking the essence of the secretive waterbirds that inhabit our marshlands. Its scientific nomenclature harks back to Venetian dialect for small rails, a nod to its elusive nature and stature.

Identification Tips

Adult Spotted Crakes are discernible by their brown upperparts and the blue-grey breast, adorned with dark barring and white spots along the flanks. Their bill is short and straight, a yellow beacon with a red base, and they possess green legs equipped with long toes. The tail is short, revealing a buff coloration underneath. In contrast, immature Spotted Crakes replace the blue-grey with brown, while the downy chicks are cloaked in black, a common trait among rails.


These birds favor marshes and sedge beds, where the vegetation is dense and the ground is moist, providing both cover and sustenance in the temperate zones of Europe stretching into western Asia.


The Spotted Crake is a bird of passage, breeding within its temperate range but retreating to the warmer climes of Africa and Pakistan to overwinter.


Spotted Crakes are masters of concealment, particularly during the breeding season. They exhibit a preference for probing the mud or shallow waters with their bills, snatching up insects and aquatic creatures that form their diet. Migration periods may offer a rare glimpse of these secretive birds.

Song & Calls

The Spotted Crake's call is a distinctive, repetitive hwuit, reminiscent of a whiplash, which pierces the stillness of its marshy realm, often betraying its presence before it is seen.


Nesting in the relative dryness of marsh vegetation, the Spotted Crake lays a clutch of 6–15 eggs, ensuring the continuation of its lineage in its chosen wetland habitats.

Similar Species

The Sora, a rare vagrant from North America, could be mistaken for the Spotted Crake. However, the Sora lacks the breast spotting and presents an unstreaked crown stripe, setting the two species apart.

Diet and Feeding

Insects and aquatic animals form the crux of the Spotted Crake's diet, sought out by their methodical probing and keen eyesight.

Conservation status

The Spotted Crake is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, the Western European population has seen a decline in recent decades, rendering it a very rare breeding bird in Great Britain. It is one of the species under the protective umbrella of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Spotted Crake Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Spotted Crake Fun Facts

Did you know?
Spotted Crakes can be extremly secretitve during the breeding season when they are often only heard.

Spotted Crakes on Birda


More Rails, Crakes & Coots

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