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Sarothrura affinis (Striped flufftail) 

Gestreepte vleikuiken [Afrikaans]; Strepenral [Dutch]; Rāle affin [French]; Streifenzwergralle [German]; Frango-d'įgua-estriado [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

Sarothrura affinis (Striped flufftail)  Sarothrura affinis (Striped flufftail) 
Striped flufftail female on nest. [photo Peter Steyn ©] Striped flufftail male on nest. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in isolated populations from Kenya, through Tanzania, Malawi and northern Mozambique to southern Africa. Here it is uncommon to rare in central Mozambique, Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern and Western Cape. It mainly occupies habitats with dense cover adjacent to open areas for foraging; in the Western Cape it favours moist mountain fynbos with fountain-bush (Psoralea) and mountain daisies (Osmitopsis) while elsewhere it dry upland grassland with woody vegetation such as Protea, Oldwood (Leucosidea sericea) and sagewoods (Buddleja) and sour grassland dominated by Red grass (Themeda triandra). It may also move into croplands to forage, especially fields of Millet (Setaria anceps) and Lucerne (Medicago sativa).

Distribution of Striped flufftail 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). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  



Recorded by Warwick Tarboton, Graskop, South Africa 1986, [© Transvaal Museum]


Predators and parasites

Movements and migrations

Mainly sedentary, although it may make local movements in response to increased temperatures or fires.


Mainly eats insects, foraging throughout the day by searching for food on the ground and around the bases of grass tufts. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, probably with a lifelong pair bond.
  • The nest (see images at the top of the page) is a bowl of dried grass or rootlets, typically concealed in a tuft of sedge or grass which is woven into the structure.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-March.
  • It lays 4-5 eggs, which are incubated by the male by day and the female at night for at least 15 days.
  • The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, with the female accompanying them.


Not globally threatened, although Vulnerable in South Africa and Threatened in Zimbabwe, largely due to overgrazing, loss of grasslands and too frequent burning.


  • 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.