Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Critically Endangered

White-winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresi)


French: Râle à miroir German: Spiegelralle Spanish: Polluela especulada

Coturnicops ayresi

Gurney, Sr

, 1877,

Potchefstroom, eastern North West Province, South Africa


Occasionally placed in genus Coturnicops without other flufftail species. Ethiopian birds first described as Ortygops macmillani. Present species has been thought to form a species pair with S. watersi, but some authors consider the two to differ too much in structural, morphological and vocal characters to support such a relationship. Monotypic.


Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa; two unconfirmed records from Zambia (Chingola, Kitwe#R). Sound records from Rwanda questionable, apparently referable to Grey Crowned-crane (Balearica regulorum).

Descriptive notes

14–16 cm; one male 31·8 g. Small flufftail; unlike other species, often easy to flush and has strong, direct flight on more pointed wings. Both sexes easily... read more


Common call a low-pitched, short “oop” note, repeated every second and continued for up... read more


Ethiopian breeding habitat is shallowly, sometimes seasonally, flooded short (usually 20–40... read more

Food and feeding

Stomach contents included water insects, grain seeds and vegetable mush, with adults observed taking earthworms, small freshwater crustacea... read more


In Ethiopia breeds during rains, Jul–Sept; despite claims to contrary, no acceptable evidence that species breeds in South Africa.... read more


Lack of subspeciation suggests that migration occurs between centres of distribution in Ethiopia... read more

Status and conservation

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. One of rarest and least known of African endemics. Recent records only from C highlands of Ethiopia and E South Africa. In Ethiopia (where discovered... read more

Recommended citation

Taylor, B., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). White-winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresi). 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 19 January 2020).