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Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra

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 is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not 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)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: _the_WP15.xls.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Amaurornis flavirostris Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), Amaurornis flavirostris flavirostris Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), Limnocorax flavirostra Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994), Limnocorax flavirostra AERC TAC (2003), Limnocorax flavirostra , Limnocorax flavirostra flavirostra Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994)

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

Behaviour This species is sedentary and a local migrant, its movements related to seasonal rainfall and the filling up of temporary waters (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Young birds may also undergo extensive dispersal movements that are not linked to rainfall (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species may breed throughout the year when conditions are suitable, with seasonal peaks during or following periods of rain (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It nests territorially (Urban et al. 1986), and is usually observed in pairs, but may gather in groups of up to 10 individuals (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005). The adults may become flightless for up to 3 weeks between December and March when moulting their fight feathers (Urban et al. 1986), during which time they remain within the cover of waterside vegetation (Hockey et al. 2005). The species is active diurnally, with peaks of activity occurring just after rainfall (Urban et al. 1986). Habitat The species inhabits many types of wetland, although it requires moderate vegetation cover, some degree of permanent flooding (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), and tangled vegetation in which it can climb, roost and nest (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Suitable habitats include flowing and still inland freshwaters (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998) (such as lakes, ponds, reservoirs, seasonal pans and temporary flooded areas along rivers) (Urban et al. 1986, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), the margins of coastal lagoons (Ghana) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and estuarine waters (Hockey et al. 2005); preferably fringed by rank grass, sedges, reedbeds, papyrus, swampy thickets, bushes or other vegetation (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species also inhabits ponds with floating submergent vegetation (e.g. water-lilies) (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and the interior of dense or extensive reedbeds (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), as well as dense undergrowth in boggy forest clearings (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), or the margins of swampy forest streams (Urban et al. 1986). In more open areas it may inhabit broad, grassy marshes (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and will occupy very small streams with little cover in drier regions (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet The diet of this species consists of worms, molluscs, crustaceans, adult and larval insects, small fish (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), small frogs and tadpoles (del Hoyo et al. 1996), the eggs and nestlings (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) of weavers Ploceus spp. and herons (e.g. Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), as well as the seeds and other parts of water plants (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. duckweed Lemna and water-lilies Nymphaea) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and occasionally carrion (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a deep bowl of reeds and other aquatic plants that is usually placed floating on or suspended 20-50 cm above the surface of water in vegetation (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998, Hockey et al. 2005). Nests may also be placed on the ground or in grass tussocks near water, and occasionally up to 3 m high in bushes (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

Utilisation The species is hunted for trade (at traditional medicine markets) in Nigeria (Nikolaus 2001), and for local consumption and trade at Lake Chilwa, Malawi (Bhima 2006).

Bhima, R. 2006. Subsistence use of waterbirds at Lake Chilwa, Malawi. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 255-256. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

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.

Nikolaus, G. 2001. Bird exploitation for traditional medicine in Nigeria. Malimbus 23: 45-55.

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.

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

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Amaurornis flavirostra. Downloaded from on 14/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 14/07/2014.

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, crakes and allies)
Species name author (Swainson, 1837)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 16,700,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Climate change species distributions