Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Corncrake (Crex crex)


French: Râle des genêts German: Wachtelkönig Spanish: Guión de codornices

Rallus Crex


, 1758,



Great variation in colour within all populations renders recognition of proposed race similis (of Kazakhstan) impractical. Monotypic.


W & NW Europe (from British Is) E to NW China and C Siberia. Winters mainly from E DRCongo and S Tanzania S to E South Africa.

Descriptive notes

27–30 cm; male 129–210 (165·5)g, female 138–158 (145)g; wingspan 42–53 cm. Sexes similar, but female has slightly warmer buff upperparts,... read more


Advertising call of male a monotonous, rasping double call “krek-krek”; calls from... read more


Breeding habitat essentially dry to moist meadows and other grasslands, including alpine meadows,... read more

Food and feeding

Earthworms, molluscs, Isopoda, Diplopoda, Arachnida and insects (including Coleoptera, Diptera, Dermaptera, Orthoptera, Odonata,... read more


Season Apr–Aug. Monogamous pair-bond of seasonal duration formerly assumed, but serial polygyny regularly occurs, males occupying... read more


Almost wholly long-distance migrant, although numerous Dec–Feb records from W Europe,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Previously considered Vulnerable. Although apparently still common and widespread in parts of range, there is clear evidence of very... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Corncrake (Crex crex). 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 7 April 2020).