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Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

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 is very 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.
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 overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Its Autumn dispersal to its wintering grounds beginning mid-July (Hockey et al. 2005), with the species returning to reoccupy its breeding grounds from April (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds in Europe from April to July and in the former USSR from May to July (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Early migrating birds (mainly juveniles) often moult in August during stops on migration, during which they become flightless for c.3 weeks (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998, Hockey et al. 2005). The species is territorial throughout both breeding and non-breeding seasons (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and is usually seen singly, in pairs or in family groups, although occasionally small groups of 2-4 individuals may forage together on migration (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It normally roosts at night in thick vegetation and forages by day (although this behaviour is reversed when migrating) (Urban et al. 1986). Habitat The species inhabits similar habitats in both its breeding and winter ranges (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), and generally requires very shallow water (less than c.15 cm deep, typically foraging in water less than 7 cm deep) that is rich in invertebrate food and is interspersed with stands of low vegetation cover (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species shows a preference for freshwater wetlands with a range of water depths or where water levels vary seasonally (del Hoyo et al. 1996), especially where these have a mixture of muddy, moist and shallowly flooded substrates (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and a dense covering of grass, sedges, rushes, Polygonum, Iris, Equisetum and other emergents, as well as trees (e.g. Acacia, Sesbania, Betula, Salix and Alnus) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Suitable habitats include seasonal and permanent marshes and fens (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), bogs, damp meadows, the edges of drainage ditches (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), swamps, seasonally flooded pans (Urban et al. 1986), pools in flooded grassland, grassy margins of reservoirs and lakes, slow-flowing rivers and sewage settling-ponds (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Diet The species is omnivorous, its diet consisting of small aquatic insect adults and larvae (e.g. Trichoptera, Odonata, Diptera, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Lepidoptera and ants), earthworms, molluscs (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), arachnids (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. spiders and water mites) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and small stranded fish (1-2 cm long) (Urban et al. 1986), as well as algae and the shoots, leaves, roots and seeds of Panicum, Oryza, Carex and Schoenoplectus (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Breeding site The nest is a thick-walled cup of plant matter, usually placed in thick vegetation near or over standing water, or alternatively in a tussock, or built up well above the water level (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

This species is vulnerable to changes in water levels, either through artificial wetland modification and drainage, or through climatic changes (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Numbers have declined over the past century in Europe due to wetland drainage (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), and the species is threatened by wetland destruction in Africa (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996).

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
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

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: Porzana porzana. Downloaded from on 09/02/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 09/02/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Spotted crake (Porzana porzana) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1766)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,390,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment