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A photo of a Ocellated Crake (Micropygia schomburgkii)
Ocellated Crake

Ocellated Crake

Micropygia schomburgkii

The Ocellated Crake (Micropygia schomburgkii) is a diminutive terrestrial bird, a member of the Rallidae family. It is adorned with a cinnamon plumage, accented with black and white mottling, making it a distinctive sight within its native grassland and savanna habitats.

Identification Tips

This species exhibits sexual dimorphism in size, with males typically weighing around 40 grams and females approximately 24 grams. The face, breast, and belly are cloaked in cinnamon, while the wings, nape, and tail are a darker brown. The crown is tinged with orange, and the throat and underparts may show hints of cream or white. The nape, back, wing coverts, and rump are speckled with white spots encircled by black rings. Its eyes are red, and the bill is a yellowish-green with black on the upper mandible.

Habitat

The Ocellated Crake favors open grasslands and savannas, preferring dense, tall grasses often exceeding one meter in height. These environments can range from dry, well-drained areas to wet, flooded regions, with the species more commonly found in the former.

Distribution

This bird has a scattered distribution across South America, with its range extending into Central America. It inhabits countries including Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Suriname, French Guiana, and Guyana, with recent sightings in Argentina.

Behaviour

Ocellated Crakes are elusive, typically running through dense grass or utilizing tunnels created by rodents. They are adept at flying low to evade predators, dropping back into the vegetation after a short distance. Tail flicking is a behavior noted in response to excitement.

Song & Calls

The crake's song is a trill composed of loud "pr pr pr" notes, which may be followed by a series of "crying" notes. The solo trill is slower in note rate compared to duets of other crake species. Alarm calls resemble the sound of sizzling oil or a whirring noise, with males producing a longer sequence.

Diet and Feeding

As ground foragers, their diet primarily consists of insects such as beetles, stoneflies, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and ants.

Breeding

Breeding seasons vary by region, with October to March in Brazil and potentially during the rainy season from May to November in Costa Rica. The species is monogamous, constructing dome-shaped nests from dry grass with an entrance. Eggs are a dull white and are incubated by the female.

Conservation status

The Ocellated Crake is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of widespread decline.

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