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the web of life in southern Africa

Porzana porzana (Spotted crake) 

Gevlekte riethaan [Afrikaans]; Katukutuku (generic term for crake) [Kwangali]; Porseleinhoen [Dutch]; Marouette ponctuée [French]; Tüpfelsumpfhuhn [German]; Franga-d'água-grande [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Gruiformes > Family: Rallidae

Porzana porzana (Spotted crake)   

Spotted crake, Turkey. [photo Sergey Yeliseev ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds from north-western China to western and southern Europe, heading south in the non-breeding season to the Mediterranean region and Africa, from Egypt south through eastern Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and eastern DRC to Zambia, Angola and southern Africa. Here it is generally uncommon in isolated patches of north-eastern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip), Botswana and Zimbabwe, while scarce in the Limpopo Province.

Distribution of Spotted crake in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Movements and migrations

Palearctic breeding migrant, arriving in mid December, with numbers peaking from January-March before most of them leave in March and April. It mainly migrates at night, flying just 1-3 metres above ground.


Mainly eats earthworms, spiders, fish and seeds, doing most of its foraging by walking along muddy shores or on lily pads, probing the ground and vegetation in search of food.


Not threatened globally, although its population and range have been on the decrease.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.