Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Buff-spotted Flufftail (Sarothrura elegans)


French: Râle ponctué German: Tropfenralle Spanish: Polluela elegante

Gallinula elegans

A. Smith

, 1839,

near Durban, Natal, South Africa


Proposed races buryi, loringi and languens, known from single localities in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania, respectively, are no longer accepted; all three synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. e. reichenovi (Sharpe, 1894) – Guinea#R#R and Sierra Leone E to DRCongo and Uganda, and S to N Angola, including Bioko.
  • S. e. elegans (A. Smith, 1839) – S Ethiopia; extreme S South Sudan and W Kenya S through Zambia and Tanzania to E & S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; male 39·5–58 (46·4) g, female 40–60·5 (45·7) g; wingspan 25–28 cm. Tail short, not fluffy. Distin­guished by... read more


    Vocal repertoire very extensive. Remarkable and unique song of male a series of hollow, hooting... read more


    Occupies wide range of habitats associated with forest or thick bush, from sea-level to 3200 m.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Studies in Natal show that species takes wide variety of invertebrate prey, principally earthworms, Amphipoda, Isopoda, Diplopoda, small... read more


    In S Africa breeds during rains (Sept–May), but few data from other regions: Cameroon, May, Sept, Oct; Zaire, Sept; Uganda, breeding... read more


    Poorly understood: seasonality of occurrence and extent of movements highly complex and imperfectly... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread; locally common, especially in South Africa. Range in W Africa very poorly known and apparently patchy; only recently... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Buff-spotted Flufftail (Sarothrura elegans). 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 26 January 2020).