Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Red-chested Flufftail (Sarothrura rufa)


French: Râle à camail German: Rotbrustralle Spanish: Polluela rufa

Rallus rufus


, 1819,

Cape Province, South Africa


Race ansorgei proposed for birds of Angola, but differences from nominate considered trivial. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. r. bonapartii (Bonaparte, 1856) – scattered records (in Liberia and Togo) from Sierra Leone E to Nigeria; more continuously in S Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo.
  • S. r. elizabethae van Someren, 1919 – WC Ethiopia; SW Central African Republic and N & E DRCongo E to Uganda and W Kenya.
  • S. r. rufa (Vieillot, 1819) – C Kenya through Tanzania (including Zanzibar and Pemba I#R), S DRCongo and Angola to South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; male 30–46·5 (38·8) g, female 29·5–42 (36·6) g; wingspan c. 25 cm. Tail noticeably long, especially compared to... read more


    Vocal repertoire very extensive. Song of male a series of high-pitched short hoots “woooo... read more


    Wide range of wetland vegetation types, from seasonally wet hygrophilous grassland and sedge meadow... read more

    Food and feeding

    Takes wide variety of invertebrate prey, including earthworms, small gastropods, spiders, and adults and larvae of many insects, including... read more


    Season indeterminate in equatorial regions; Sierra Leone, May, Jul; Nigeria, Dec; Cameroon, Mar–Jul; Gabon, Nov–Dec, Mar; Zaire... read more


    No evidence for regular movements; pairs entirely sedentary and permanently territorial when... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread, sometimes locally common to abundant, e.g. in Congo, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but much less common... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Red-chested Flufftail (Sarothrura rufa). 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 21 February 2020).