Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Little Crake (Zapornia parva)


French: Marouette poussin German: Kleines Sumpfhuhn Spanish: Polluela bastarda

Rallus parvus


, 1769,

probably from Carniola, Slovenia


Previously included in expanded genus Porzana. Proposed race illustris (Turkestan) not recognized. Monotypic.


Locally in Europe E across Transcaucasus, SE Transcaspia, W Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and W Xinjiang (Tien Shan and Tarim Basin E to Lop Nur), in NW China. Winters from Mediterranean S to W Africa (Senegal, Niger, Nigeria) and E Africa (Uganda, Kenya), and E through Arabia to W Pakistan and NW India.

Descriptive notes

18–20 cm; male 30–72 (50) g, female 36–65 (49·5) g; wingspan 34–39 cm. Marked sexual dimorphism in plumage: male has blue-grey face and... read more


Advertising call of male a loud, barking “quack” or “quek” repeated every 1–2 seconds for up... read more


In breeding season occurs typically in temperate and steppe zones, usually in lowlands but... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly insects, especially water beetles (Hydrophilidae) and also Hemiptera, Neuroptera, and adult and larval Diptera, and also seeds of... read more


C Europe, May–Aug; bred once in Egypt, Apr. Monogamous and territorial, pair-bond maintained only during breeding season. Nest a... read more


Distribution imperfectly known due to secretive behaviour, and few wintering sites known (map... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Current status poorly known; formerly thought to be less severely affected than congeners by wetland drainage and reclamation, and in... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. (2020). Little Crake (Zapornia parva). 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 24 February 2020).