Monday, October 24

Watercock

   ›      ›   Watercock - Gallicrex cinerea

The watercock (Gallicrex cinerea) is a water bird belonging to the crake and rail family, Rallidae. It is the only member of the genus Gallicrex. The watercock is a monotypic species. It resembles moorhen and is considered closely related to it. The watercock is distributed in Pakistan, India, Andaman Islands, Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Maldives, south China, Korea, Japan, Ryukyu Island, Southeast Asia, Philippines and Indonesia.

Taxonomy of Watercock

  • Scientific Name: Gallicrex cinerea
  • Common Name: Watercock
  • French: Râle à crête; German: Wasserhahn; Spanish: Gallineta crestada;
  • Other names: Fulica cinerea J. F. Gmelin, 1789
  • Family: Rallidae › Gruiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Gmelin, 1789)
Gallicrex cinerea is the only member of the genus Gallicrex, which is closely related to genus Aenigmatolimnas, Amaurornis, Himantornis and Megacrex.

Description

The watercock is medium sized bird with marked sexual dimorphism. The male bird is larger and measures 42 cm in length and weighs 300 to 600 grams. The female bird measures 35 cm in length and weighs 200 to 400 grams. The wingspan is 70 to 90 cm. The watercock males have black-gray plumage and extended red frontal shield and red horn. The females have brown plumage, which is paler on the underside. The plumage in females is streaked and barred with darker markings.

The watercock bill is yellow and the long legs and toes are greenish yellow. Their body is flattened laterally to help in their movement through reeds. The watercock call is a loud “gulping” sound.
Indian birds - Watercock - Gallicrex cinerea
Birds of India - Watercock - Gallicrex cinerea
Birds of India - Watercock - Gallicrex cinerea
Indian birds - Watercock - Gallicrex cinerea
Indian birds - Watercock - Gallicrex cinerea
Birds of India - Watercock - Gallicrex cinerea

Habitat

The watercock species inhabit reedbeds, wetlands, marshes, swamps, flooded pasture, flooded meadows, irrigated lands and flooded agricultural fields.

Diet and feeding habits

The watercock species feed on small fish, invertebrates, aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, worms and mollusks. They probe with their bill in mud or shallow water for food. They also forage on the ground feeding vegetable matters like seeds, grass, shoots and berries.

Breeding

The watercock species in Indian subcontinent breeds during June to September. Individual resident populations breed with respect to local weather seasons, usually nesting during or just after the wet season. The nest is built on the ground as a raised platform of plant material, hidden among reeds or long-grass. The clutch may contains 3 to 6 eggs.

Distribution

The watercock is distributed in Pakistan, India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, south China, Korea, Japan, Japanese Ryukyu Island, Southeast Asia, Philippines and Indonesia.

Movement and migration Patterns

The watercock populations are mostly resident. The northern watercock populations in China, Korea and Japan move to southern parts during winter. They move locally within their range for foraging and breeding.

Conservation status and concerns

The watercock global population is not quantified and the overall population trend is on the decrease due to habitat loss. However, as it has a very large range, it is considered not Vulnerable. The reclamation of wetlands, cutting and burning of reed bed and expanding agricultural activities are the main threats faced by these watercock species for their survival.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these watercock species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Gallicrex cinerea
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Gruiformes
Family:Rallidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Gallicrex
Species:G. cinerea
Binomial name:Gallicrex cinerea
Distribution:Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, south China, Korea, Japan, Philippines and Indonesia;
Feeding habits:feeds on small fish, mollusks, invertebrates, aquatic insects, water beetles and worms; plant matter include seeds, grass, shoots and berries;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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