Rallus caerulescens (African rail)
Grootriethaan [Afrikaans]; isiZinzi (also applied to Baillon's crake)
[Zulu]; Sipika [Kwangali]; Mopaka-paka [South Sotho]; Nhapata (generic
name for coot, gallinule, moorhen, crake or rail) [Shona]; Nwatsekutseku
[Tsonga]; Afrikaanse waterral [Dutch]; Râle bleuâtre [French]; Kapralle
[German]; Frango-d'água-africano [Portuguese]
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For information about this species, see
Distribution and habitat
Occurs from Ethiopia south through
Uganda, Kenya, southern DRC, Tanzania, eastern Angola and Zambia to southern
Africa. Here it is uncommon to locally common in the Caprivi Strip (Namibia),
northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and patches of South Africa,
largely excluding the Northern Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape. It generally
prefers reedbeds and other dense vegetation along the edges of swamps, streams
and marshes, sometimes moving to paddy fields and seasonally wet sugar cane
fields next to marshes.
Distribution of African rail in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
Animal Demography unit, University of
Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range
from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).
See here for the latest distribution
from the SABAP2.
Predators and parasites
of chicks and eggs
Movements and migrations
Resident and largely
sedentary, although it may make local movements in response to
Mainly eats insects, earthworms,
spiders, small frogs, small fish and plant matter such as seeds, doing most of
its foraging in mud or shallow water along the edges of reedbeds, probing in
search of prey.
Monogamous, solitary nester, establishing a territory at the
onset of the breeding season in July and June by fighting with other pairs.
The nest is a shallow saucer of leaves, sedge stems,
Bulrushes (Typha capensis) and grasses, typically concealed within or
between grass or sedge tufts.
Egg-laying season is from July-May, peaking from
It lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for
about 20 days.
The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, becoming
fully independent when they fledge at 42-56 days old.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.