home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Sarothrura ayresi (White-winged flufftail) 

Witvlerkvleikuiken [Afrikaans]; Witvleugelral [Dutch]; Rle miroir [French]; Weiflgel-zwergralle [German]; Frango-d'gua-d'asa-branca [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

Distribution and habitat

Only breeds in a small patch of Ethiopia, while it is a rare visitor to Zambia and southern Africa, where it has been recorded in Zimbabwe and the eastern half of South Africa. It is extremely fussy about habitats, favouring wetlands with plenty of peat and dense sedges such as Carex acutiformis and Cyperus fastigiatus. Patches of Carex sedges mixed with Common reeds (Phragimites australis), Bulrush (Typha capensis) and grasses are also commonly present in the area. It may also move into shallowly flooded grassland with grasses (Leersia, Hemarthria and Cynodon) and sedges (including Cyperus digitatus), while in the rainy season it often co-occurs with the Red-chested flufftail in seasonally permanent rank vegetation dominated by sedges and grasses.

Movements and migrations

Thought to be an Intra-African migrant, breeding in Ethiopia from June-September before heading south to southern Africa, where it stays from roughly October-March.


Mainly eats invertebrates, doing most of its foraging in dense cover, plucking prey from the ground and vegetation. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


Globally endangered, largely due to catastrophic decreases of breeding habitat in Ethiopia, as well as a contraction of its non-breeding range. It is Critically Endangered in South Africa due to habitat loss and disturbance, such as trampling by domestic stock and humans.


  • 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.