Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)


Sakalava Rail (Zapornia olivieri)


French: Marouette d’Olivier German: Malegassenkielralle Spanish: Polluela negra malgache

Porzana Olivieri

G. Grandidier and Berlioz

, 1929,

Antsalova, Province of Maintirano, west Madagascar


Sometimes placed in Porzana or in Amaurornis. Thought to be closely related to Z. flavirostra. Monotypic.


WC Madagascar.

Descriptive notes

19 cm. Distinctive: dark slate grey plumage with rich dark brown from mantle to rump and on upperwing-coverts; greenish yellow bill, pinkish red legs and eyelids, and red eye... read more


Usual calls tic-tic or tic-tic-tic huaww, accompanied with upward flicking... read more


Lotic marshes with a mixture of open water, patches of floating vegetation for foraging,... read more

Food and feeding

Food unknown. Forages walking slowly on floating vegetation, mainly Salvinia hastata, keeping among Phragmites stems and... read more


Nests with eggs recorded in Mar, Oct and Nov, and chicks in Mar, Jul and Nov. Nests placed near water, in marshy areas; one was 50 cm... read more


None described.

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Previously considered Critically Endangered. After description in 1929, specimens were taken in 1930 and 1962, in Ambararatabe near Soalala, and Nosy-... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. & de Juana, E. (2019). Sakalava Rail (Zapornia olivieri). 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 11 December 2019).