Family Painted-snipes (Rostratulidae)

Least Concern

Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)


French: Rhynchée peinte German: Goldschnepfe Spanish: Aguatero bengalí

Rallus benghalensis


, 1758,



Until recently, considered conspecific with R. australis. Birds on Madagascar have been described as a separate race, madagascariensis, based on being darker and greyer than mainland African birds. Monotypic.


Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar; NE Afghanistan (old records) and Pakistan E to NE China, and S Japan, and S through SE Asia, Greater Sundas and Philippines to Lesser Sundas (Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, and perhaps Timor#R). Status in extreme SE Russia (Ussuriland) uncertain#R.

Descriptive notes

23–28 cm; c. 90–200 g; wingspan 50–55 cm. Strong sexual dimorphism in plumage and also in size. Male has golden eye-patch, crown stripe and “V”... read more


Female utters soft, metallic, drawn-out hooting calls, likened to human blowing over a bottle,... read more


Wetlands in tropical and subtropical lowlands, generally up to c. 1800 m in Himalayas and in Zambia... read more

Food and feeding

Omnivorous. Invertebrates taken include insects, snails, earthworms and crustaceans; also seeds, including a variety of grasses, rice and... read more


Mostly breeds during or immediately after rains in Africa, with laying mainly Mar–Jun in W & C Africa, Aug–Nov in S South... read more


Mainly sedentary in Asia, and in Egypt. Short migrations reported from NE China (where apparently... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally uncommon to frequent and even locally common. Few population estimates available, and population trends difficult to... read more

Recommended citation

Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis). 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 14 December 2019).