Black Crake

Amaurornis flavirostra

The Black Crake is a small (90g), diurnal species and not as shy as many of their close relatives, often emerging quite confidently into the open. They are mostly seen in pairs or small family groups, inhabiting densely vegetated wetlands and streams. These crakes subsist on aquatic invertebrates, small fish, frogs and tadpoles as well as seeds and waterplants.

Black Crakes breed throughout the year, with a peak in summer. The nest is a cup of plant material floating on or suspended just above the water, or built on the ground in a safe, densely vegetated area, in which between 2 and 6 (usually 3) eggs are laid and incubated for almost three weeks by both parents. While breeding they become extremely aggressive, even taking on birds much larger than themselves. Juveniles from previous broods often assist in raising the current clutch, which can fly from about 6 weeks old and become independent shortly thereafter.

The Black Crake occurs over all of Sub-Saharan Africa with the exception of the most arid areas. The IUCN estimates their population at 1-million and lists the species as least concern. In South Africa they are considered a common resident, absent only from the dry Karoo and Kalahari regions the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape Provinces.

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