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Species Guide
A photo of a Little Crake (Zapornia parva), male
Little Crake, Male

Little Crake

Zapornia parva

The Little Crake, Zapornia parva, is a diminutive member of the Rallidae family, whose Latin name aptly translates to "small". This species exhibits a striking sexual dimorphism, with males and females donning distinct plumage.

Identification Tips

Adult males of the Little Crake are characterized by brown upperparts and a blue-grey face and underparts. The bill is short and straight, yellow with a red base, and the legs are green with elongated toes. The tail is short, displaying a black and white barred pattern underneath. Females, on the other hand, have buff underparts and are grey only on the face. Immature birds resemble females but have a white face and breast. The downy chicks are uniformly black, a common trait among rails.


The preferred breeding habitat of the Little Crake is reed beds, where they find shelter and nesting sites.


These birds are indigenous to Europe, predominantly in the eastern regions, and extend their range just into western Asia. They are migratory, retreating to Africa to overwinter.


Little Crakes are elusive during the breeding season, often heard rather than seen. They become more visible during migration and are known for their yapping "kua" call.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the Little Crake include a distinctive yapping call, which can be more frequently heard during their migratory period.


Nesting in dry spots amidst reed vegetation, the Little Crake lays a clutch of 4–7 eggs. Their secretive nature is most pronounced during this time.

Similar Species

The Little Crake can be readily distinguished from the Spotted Crake by the absence of dark barring and white spots on the flanks. It is also similar in appearance to the Baillon's Crake, which is slightly smaller and has strongly barred flanks, and the Yellow-breasted Crake of the American tropics.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists mainly of insects and aquatic animals, which they forage for by probing in mud or shallow water and by sight.

Conservation Status

The Little Crake is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and it is one of the species protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Little Crake Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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