Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea)


French: Râle à crête German: Wasserhahn Spanish: Gallineta crestada

Fulica cinerea

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,



Relationships uncertain. Monotypic.


Pakistan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka E to C & E China, Korea, S Japan and S Ryukyu Is, and S through Andamans, Nicobars and SE Asia to Sumatra and Philippines. Winters S to Greater and Lesser Sundas and Sulawesi.

Descriptive notes

Male 40–43 cm, 300–650 g; female 34·5–36 cm, 200–434 g; wingspan 68–86 cm. Large moorhen-like rail with slimmer, long-necked appearance.... read more


Noisy in breeding season, with three types of call, all produced fairly continuously and... read more


Reedy or grassy swamps, flooded pasture, rice fields, irrigated sugarcane, and rush-bordered... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds largely on seeds and shoots of “green crops”, and wild and cultivated rice, but also takes worms, molluscs, aquatic... read more


India and Pakistan, mostly Jun–Sept (monsoon months); Sri Lanka, May, also Jan–Feb and possibly Jul–Aug; Maldives, Jun... read more


Most birds from N China and Korea apparently migrate or disperse S for winter, but extent of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Formerly reckoned to be common over much of range. Currently regarded as common winter visitor Sumatra (perhaps breeding only... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea). 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 20 February 2020).