Baillon's crake

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Baillon's crake
Porzana pusilla - Mount Annan Botanical Garden.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Porzana
P. pusilla
Binomial name
Porzana pusilla
(Pallas, 1776)
PorzanaPusillaIUCN2019 2.png
Range of P. pusilla     Breeding     Resident     Non-breeding

Zapornia pusilla

Baillon's crake (Porzana pusilla) or the marsh crake, is a small waterbird of the family Rallidae.



Their breeding habitat is sedge beds in Europe, mainly in the east, and across Asia. They used to breed in Great Britain up to the mid-19th century, but the western European population declined through drainage. There has been a recovery in north-western Europe in recent years, with the recolonisation of Germany and the Netherlands, and breeding suspected in Britain; an Irish record in 2012 was the first there since the 1850s. [2] They nest in a dry location in wet sedge bogs, laying 4–8 eggs. This species is migratory, wintering in east Africa and south Asia.

It is also a resident breeder in Africa and Australasia. There is a single North American record of this species on Attu Island in September 2000.

At Sherwood Arboretum, SE Queensland, Australia Baillons Crake nov01 sherwood.JPG
At Sherwood Arboretum, SE Queensland, Australia
At Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu Baillon's Crake - Coimbatore.jpg
At Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu


They are 16–18 cm (6.3–7.1 in) in length, and are similar to the only slightly larger little crake. Baillon's crake has a short straight bill, yellow or green without a red base. Adults have mainly brown upperparts with some white markings, and a blue-grey face and underparts. The rear flanks are barred black and white. They have green legs with long toes, and a short tail which is barred underneath.

Immature Baillon's crakes are similar to the adults, but have extensively barred underparts. The downy chicks are black, as with all rails.

Stuffed specimen Baillon's Crake.jpg
Stuffed specimen


Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany Porzana pusilla MWNH 0060.JPG
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany

These birds probe with their bill in mud or shallow water, also picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and aquatic animals.

Baillon's crakes are very secretive in the breeding season, and are then mostly heard rather than seen. They are then noisy birds, with a rattling call like that of the edible frog, or perhaps garganey. They can be easier to see on migration or when wintering.

Taxonomy and nomenclature

This bird is named after French naturalist Louis Antoine Francois Baillon. The names marsh crake and tiny crake have previously been used to refer to this species. The genus name Porzana is derived from Venetian terms for small rails, and pusillus is Latin for "very small". [3]



The Baillon's crake is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


Baillon's crakes are not listed as threatened on the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. However, their conservation status varies from state to state within Australia. For example:

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  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Zapornia pusilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  2. "Irish Rare Bird Report". Irish Birds. 9: 588.
  3. Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 315, 325. ISBN   978-1-4081-2501-4.
  4. "Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Threatened List March 2017" (PDF). Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  5. "Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act: Index of Approved Action Statements". Department of Sustainability and Environment. Archived from the original on 4 May 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  6. Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (2007). Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria - 2007. East Melbourne, Victoria: Department of Sustainability and Environment. p. 15. ISBN   978-1-74208-039-0.