Birda Logo
A photo of a White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
White-breasted Waterhen

White-breasted Waterhen

Amaurornis phoenicurus

The White-breasted Waterhen, known scientifically as Amaurornis phoenicurus, presents a striking contrast in its plumage. The adult birds are adorned with dark grey upperparts and flanks, while their face, neck, and breast gleam in pure white. The lower belly and undertail boast a cinnamon hue or match the white of their upper body. Adapted for a life amidst dense vegetation, their bodies are laterally compressed, easing their movement through reeds. They possess long toes, a short tail, and are equipped with a yellow bill and legs. Both sexes are similar in appearance, though females are marginally smaller. The immature birds display a more subdued coloration, and the downy chicks are cloaked in black, a common trait among rails.

Identification Tips

To identify the White-breasted Waterhen, look for the clean white face, breast, and belly that contrast with the dark slaty body. Their yellow bill and legs are also distinctive, as is their behavior of walking with a cocked, jerking tail.


These waterhens favor marshes as their breeding grounds, thriving in tropical Asia's wetlands.


The species is widely distributed across South and Southeast Asia, from Pakistan to Indonesia. They are commonly found in the plains but can also be encountered in higher elevations up to 1500 meters.


White-breasted Waterhens are often solitary or in pairs, foraging with deliberate steps along water bodies. They exhibit a unique tail-jerking motion as they walk and are known to probe the mud or shallow water with their bills, also visually seeking out food. They are crepuscular, being most active during dawn and dusk.

Song & Calls

The species is vocal, especially during the breeding season, producing loud and repetitive croaking calls. The Andaman population, in particular, is known for its duck-like quack calls.


Breeding occurs mainly from June to October, varying by location. Nests are constructed on dry ground amidst marsh vegetation, where 6-7 eggs are laid. Both parents share incubation duties and chick rearing, with hatching occurring around 19 days.

Similar Species

While there are no similar species mentioned, always consider the habitat and behavior when differentiating between species.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists of insects, small fish, aquatic invertebrates, and grains or seeds. They have been observed washing their prey in water before consumption and may occasionally feed in deeper waters like a moorhen.

Conservation status

The White-breasted Waterhen is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population across its extensive range.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

White-breasted Waterhens on Birda


More Rails, Crakes & Coots

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Such a great app!
I didn’t think I could enjoy birding more but this app makes it so much better. Some great features and a really great way to share your sightings with your friends or fellow birders nearby or around the world! ❀️
Alice J
Awesome Birding Community
I absolutely love the community aspect of this app. The app is so user friendly and has fun interactive challenges to get you out birding. I’ve tried others but since I’ve started using Birda I’ve not gone back!
Simply fantastic
I love this app, it puts so much fun into recording the birds I’ve seen and heard while I’m out and about. The interface is user-friendly and suitable for all ages. It’s great to collect badges and to review my β€œlists”.
Nick S
Work together with community
Been loving using this app to log my bird sightings and work together with community members to identify different birds. I've already learned a lot since I started about a month ago!
Loving it
I really enjoy being able to interact with other birders on this platform! This seems like a great way to meet other birders and find some new spots.
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Dan R
Great app for bird fanatics
Great app for bird fanatics - very user friendly and a perfect place to share sightings.
Hip An
Really enjoying Birda where I live i have a lot of Red kites really hard to photograph but I can video are you planning some place on the app where us Birda can post vidsπŸ¦‰πŸ¦…
Awesome App
I really enjoy using this app! It is such a friendly community of bird-lovers who are happy to help if I need ID advice. It’s been great motivation to get outdoors and go birding more! 10/10 😍😍
Terrific App for Birders
Downloaded Birda around the time my interest in birding was sparked, and it has been a terrific app to help me (1) share my experience, (2) document my sightings, and (3) learn more about birds in general. That said, I also believe Birda is a fantastic app for birders of all experience levels. Great community!
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
Β© 2024 All rights reserved