Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Black Crake (Zapornia flavirostra)


French: Marouette à bec jaune German: Schwarzkielralle Spanish: Polluela negra africana

Gallinula flavirostra


, 1837,



Sometimes included in Porzana or Amaurornis, or placed in monospecific Limnocorax. Thought to be closely related to Z. olivieri. Monotypic.


Sub-Saharan Africa from N edge of Sahel zone S (except in desert regions of NE & SW) to Cape. Extralimital breeding record in N Niger (L Arrigui)#R.

Descriptive notes

19–23 cm; male 78–118 (96·5) g, female 70–110 (81) g; 159 both sexes 69–118 (89·5) g; weight varies greatly during year. Sexes alike.... read more


Very characteristic advertising call is a duet: one bird gives harsh repeated chatter “krrrok... read more


Occupies many types of freshwater wetland, normal requirements including moderate vegetation cover... read more

Food and feeding

Worms, molluscs, crustaceans, adult and larval insects, small fish, frog tadpoles and small frogs; also seeds and other parts of water... read more


In suitable conditions breeding may occur throughout year, with seasonal peaks in most regions, during or following rains: Senegal and... read more


Largely sedentary but also locally migratory. In drier N parts of range, in N Ghana, N Nigeria and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Commonest and most widespread crake in Africa; less secretive than other terrestrial wetland rallids of region, and has well known... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. (2019). Black Crake (Zapornia flavirostra). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 December 2019).