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the web of life in southern Africa

Sarothrura boehmi (Streaky-breasted flufftail) 

Streepborsvleikuiken [Afrikaans]; Bhm-ral [Dutch]; Rle de Bhm [French]; Boehmzwergralle [German]; Frango-d'gua de Boehm [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

Occurs in isolated patches of sub-Saharan Africa in the area from Cameroon to Kenya south through southern DRC and Zambia (where it is most widespread) to southern Africa.  Here it is locally common in north-eastern Zimbabwe, generally preferring short, seasonally inundated grasslands with plenty of termite mounds and dominated by Millet (Setaria anceps), Cat's-tail (Sporobolus pyramidalis) and Pin-hole grass (Bothriochloa insculpta), which are overrun by Bronze-awned thatching grass (Hyperrhaenia nyassae) and blue grasses (Andropogon) later in the season.

Distribution of Streaky-breasted 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).

Movements and migrations

Intra-African migrant, breeding in Zimbabwe and Zambia from November-April, probably heading north in the non-breeding season to equatorial Africa.


Little is known about its diet and foraging habits, besides that eats small seeds and insects.


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, building a simple pad of grasses which is concealed in a grass tuft.
  • Egg-laying season is from November-March, peaking from January-February.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated by the male by day and the female at night, for a period of 14-18 days.
  • The chicks leave the nest after 1-3 days, learning to find food for themselves a few days later. They take their first flight at about 35 days old, after which their parents chase them away from their territory.


Not threatened, although overgrazing, damming, draining and cultivation of seasonally inundated wetlands is cause for concern.


  • 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.