Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-headed Flufftail (Sarothrura lugens)


French: Râle à tête rousse German: Ugallaralle Spanish: Polluela cabecirroja
Other common names: Long-toed Flufftail, Lynes's Flufftail (lynesi)

Crex lugeus

[sic] Böhm

, 1884,

Ugalla District, Tanzania


Proposed race modesta (Cameroon) inseparable from nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. lugens (Böhm, 1884) – Cameroon to DRCongo, Rwanda and W Tanzania.
  • S. l. lynesi C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1934 – C Angola and Zambia; presumably this race recorded in Malawi#R.
  • Specimen from Nyanga, Zimbabwe, is immature female of S. rufa; recent sight and sound reports from Zimbabwe probably also referable to S. rufa.

    Descriptive notes

    c. 15 cm. Tail even longer than in S. rufa and S. boehmi, often fluffed out. Male has rich chestnut on head down to hindneck and malar region (darker and... read more


    Poorly known. Song of male a series of moaning, rather guttural hoots “whooo”, each... read more


    Patches of savanna in lowland forest; grass-grown marshes in savanna; lakeside marshes; rank grass... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little known. Stomach of adults contained insects and seeds; of a chick, small black ants.


    Apparently breeds during wet season, at least in S of range. Laying months, derived from young birds and collected females containing eggs... read more


    Unknown; probably entirely sedentary, with perhaps very local displacement outside breeding season... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally uncommon, but locally common in NE Zambia, where 5–6 birds singing in radius of c. 450 m. Has been described as a... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Chestnut-headed Flufftail (Sarothrura lugens). 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 20 November 2019).