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Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Behaviour This species is likely to be partially migratory although its movements are poorly known (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In some areas its appearance is related to the timing of the rainy season (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and there is evidence for regular altitudinal and coastal movements (Hockey et al. 2005). The species breeds during the rains in southern Africa, although there is little known about the timing of breeding in other regions (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds in territorial solitary pairs (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), remaining solitary, in pairs or family groups (Hockey et al. 2005) outside of the breeding season if resident in an area (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species forages diurnally, mostly in the morning and late-afternoon (del Hoyo et al. 1996), roosting off the ground during the hottest part of the day and at night either in breeding or roosting nests or on low perches in trees and bushes (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Habitat The species frequents permanent habitats (Urban et al. 1986) associated with forest or thick bush from sea level up to 3,200 m (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), requiring dense overhead and ground cover with soft earth, moss or leaf-litter for foraging (Taylor and van Perlo 1998, Hockey et al. 2005). It inhabits the interiors or edges of more open types of forest (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), particularly favouring clearings, secondary growth and scrub (del Hoyo et al. 1996) or dense evergreen and deciduous thickets (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), and is often found away from tall trees in bushy ravines or on brush-covered hillsides (Urban et al. 1986). Other habitats include banana and arrowroot plantations, neglected cultivation and rural gardens (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Although not typically associated with water (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (may be 1-2 km away from it) (Urban et al. 1986), the species may be found on the floor of muddy valleys (Gabon) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), in swampy forest patches (Sudan) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), or along forest streams (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), occasionally feeding in marshes adjacent to forest habitats during the winter (South Africa) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species may occur in atypical habitats on migration (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet The diet of this species consists of invertebrates such as small ants, bugs, flies, small gastropods, cockroaches, Lepidoptera, centipedes, nematodes, Collembolla (del Hoyo et al. 1996), earthworms, amphipods, isopods, millipedes, spiders, ticks, grasshoppers, crickets (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), termite workers and alates, adult and larval beetles, and slugs (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), as well as grass and tree seeds (possibly to aid in grinding up other foods) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). Breeding site The nest is a domed structure (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005) or an open shallow cup with a roof of low vegetation (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005), positioned on the ground in a small excavated depression, usually well-hidden in dense ground vegetation, tangled cover or under the leaves of a large plant (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998) in areas shaded by tall trees or within clumps of bushes (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

In residential areas the species suffers heavy predation from domestic cats Felis catus (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

Taylor, B. 1998. Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Sarothrura elegans. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
Species name author (Smith, 1839)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,050,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change