Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Spot-flanked Gallinule (Gallinula melanops)


French: Gallinule à face noire German: Maskenpfuhlhuhn Spanish: Gallineta pintada

Rallus melanops


, 1819,



Sometimes separated in monotypic genus Porphyriops. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. m. bogotensis (Chapman, 1914) – E Andes of Colombia.
  • G. m. melanops (Vieillot, 1819) – SE Bolivia, Paraguay, E & S Brazil, NE Argentina and Uruguay.
  • G. m. crassirostris (J. E. Gray, 1829) – Chile and SW Argentina.
  • Descriptive notes

    22–30 cm; unsexed 154–225 g. Distinctive gallinule, in shape resembling more a large Porzana crake than Gallinula; black face, grey and olive... read more


    Common call is hollow cackling, resembling sudden burst of hysterical laughter, the notes beginning... read more


    Ponds, ditches, marshes, lagoons, and lake margins with often extensive floating-leaved vegetation... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food not described. Feeds mostly by swimming, picking food from floating vegetation or sometimes from water; seldom walks on marsh... read more


    Colombia, Feb and Jun, but also breeds in other seasons; Chile, Oct–Nov (spring); SE Brazil, season prolonged, feathered young seen... read more


    None recorded, but at Cape San Antonio, E Argentina, birds were first seen in Sept and were gone by... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common in SE Brazil, widespread in SW Brazil, Paraguay, E Bolivia and lowlands of N & C Argentina, and thought to be... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Spot-flanked Gallinule (Gallinula melanops). 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 23 January 2020).