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 may be moderately small to large, 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.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 1994. The taxonomy and species of birds of Australia and its territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union, Melbourne.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
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.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.
The global population is estimated to number c.13,000-37,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in China; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.EcologyBehaviour
African and Australasian populations of this species are non-migratory or only make local movements in response to seasonal habitat changes (del Hoyo et al.
1996). Those populations in Europe and Asia however appear to be fully migratory (del Hoyo et al.
1996), most flying southward from late-August to October and returning to the northern breeding areas from March to May (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species breeds in solitary pairs (Urban et al.
1986, Langrand 1990) in the spring, usually nesting during or just after the wet season (where this occurs) (del Hoyo et al.
1996). It is usually a solitary species, but can be found in pairs or family groups, and sometimes forages in small groups of up to 10 individuals in non-breeding areas (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species forages diurnally but is most active in the early morning and late afternoon or evening (del Hoyo et al.
The species frequents similar habitats throughout its range and throughout the year (Urban et al.
1986, Langrand 1990, Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), although its breeding areas are characterised by low, dense, tussocky or continuous vegetation such as flooded sedges and grasses (del Hoyo et al.
1996). It inhabits freshwater, brackish or saline marshy wetlands (Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996), both inland and coastal (Australasia) (Marchant and Higgins 1993), permanent and temporary, with dense emergent and floating vegetation (del Hoyo et al.
1996) (especially reeds, rushes, sedges, tall dense grasses and Typha
spp.) (Urban et al.
1986). Typical habitats include marshes, swamps, peat bogs, flooded meadows (Urban et al.
1986, del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), damp grassland (del Hoyo et al.
1996), seasonally flooded pans and depressions, tussocky grassland interspersed with patches of mud on the margins of open water (Urban et al.
1986, del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998)(e.g. lakes and reservoirs) (Urban et al.
1986, Marchant and Higgins 1993), pools in sand-dunes (Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996), swampy creeks, rivers (Marchant and Higgins 1993) and streams (Urban et al.
1986), tall reedbeds (2-3 m high) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) with extensive mud, shallow puddles and Sesbania
bushes (del Hoyo et al.
1996), and occasionally salt-marsh (Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996). The species also frequents marshy artificial wetlands such as irrigated fields of crops (e.g. rice) (Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996), sewage ponds (Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), salt-works (Marchant and Higgins 1993, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), farm ponds (Urban et al.
1986, Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996) and dense grassy vegetation in rural residential areas (Marchant and Higgins 1993, del Hoyo et al.
1996). Although the species shows a preference for shallowly flooded areas, breeding birds may occupy grassland and sedges flooded to a depth of 30 cm and will occur on floating vegetation or in tall shrubs flooded to a depth of 2 m (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Diet
Its diet consists predominantly of adult and larval insects (e.g. beetles, bugs, Odonata, stoneflies, caddisflies, flies and mosquitos) (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), as well as annelids (del Hoyo et al.
1996) (up to 10 cm long) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), molluscs, small crustaceans (e.g. ostracods and copepods), small fish (del Hoyo et al.
1996) (up to 2 cm long) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), amphibians (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), and vegetative plant material and seeds (del Hoyo et al.
1996). Breeding site
The nest is a shallow cup or platform of vegetation placed close to water on a grass tussock or in soft grass, usually 4-60 cm above the water level (del Hoyo et al.
1996). Occasionally the nest may be floating or anchored to vegetation in water, or placed in or under low bushes (del Hoyo et al.
1996). Management information
Changes in water level during the nesting period should be avoided, cutting and burning of vegetation near the waters edge should be controlled and the maintenance of natural vegetation around fish ponds and rice-fields should be encouraged (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).Threats
The species is threatened by degradation and loss of seasonal and ephemeral wetlands owing to drainage, overgrazing, cultivation (del Hoyo et al.
1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), reed-cutting, reed-burning and sudden changes in water levels caused by discharges from large dams (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species also suffers high mortality during migration from collisions with powerlines (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).
Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.
Langrand, O. 1990. Guide to the birds of Madagascar. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Marchant, S.; Higgins, P. J. 1993. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds, 2: raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Taylor, B.; van Perlo, B. 1998. Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)
Hear sounds for this species from xeno-canto, the community database of shared bird sounds from around the world.
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Porzana pusilla. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2013.
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.
Additional resources for this species