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Species Guide

Ruddy Crake

Laterallus ruber

The Ruddy Crake, known scientifically as Laterallus ruber, is a diminutive bird, comparable in size to a sparrow, measuring 14–16.5 cm in length. It boasts a ruddy plumage that varies in shade, complemented by a gray head, dark brown wings, and tail. The chestnut hues are most vibrant across the chest, with a paler chin and belly, while the crown is blackish and the ear-coverts a dark grey. The bird's bill is a stark black, eyes gleam with a red iris, and the legs and feet are an olive-green, a distinctive feature among its peers.

Identification Tips

To identify the Ruddy Crake, look for its bright chestnut coloration, paler underparts, and the contrast between its blackish crown and dark grey ear-coverts. The bird's black bill, red iris, and olive-green legs are key distinguishing features. Immature birds may exhibit a pale midline or a chestnut-colored nape. Males are typically more vibrant, with rusty red plumage on the breast, while females appear more subdued.


The Ruddy Crake favors wet environments, thriving in marshes, reedbeds, damp fields, and ditches. It has a particular affinity for tall grasses within these wet pastures.


This species is native to the lowlands of the Caribbean, with a presence from Mexico down to north-west Costa Rica. Historically abundant in Mexico, it has been considered rare in Costa Rica, though sightings at the La Selva Biological Research Station suggest a more extensive range than previously thought.


The Ruddy Crake is known to forage for invertebrates and plant material near the water's surface. It is a secretive bird, often remaining hidden within its preferred marshy habitats.

Song & Calls

Unfortunately, the source provided does not include information on the song and calls of the Ruddy Crake.


During the breeding season, Ruddy Crakes lay 6-12 eggs in nests constructed from plants near the water. Both parents share incubation duties over a three-week period, with hatching spread over a week. The male tends to the chicks while the female incubates the remaining eggs. Once all have hatched, both parents participate in feeding and protecting their brood, sometimes dividing the chicks between them for care.

Similar Species

The source provided does not include information on species similar to the Ruddy Crake.

Diet and Feeding

The Ruddy Crake's diet consists of invertebrates and plants, including decaying vegetation, water snails, water beetles, mosquito larvae, and mayflies found in its wetland habitat.

Conservation status

The Ruddy Crake is classified as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. Despite facing threats from deforestation and habitat degradation, conservation efforts have been beneficial. The population is estimated to be fewer than 50,000 individuals, though the exact trend is uncertain due to the variable nature of the threats it faces.


Previously known as Corethrura rubra, the Ruddy Crake's taxonomy has been updated to its current binomial name, Laterallus ruber.

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Jane Crawford
28 Apr 2024 - 11:48pm

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