Baillon's crake

   ›      ›   Baillon's crake - Zapornia pusilla

The Baillon's crake (Zapornia pusilla) is a small water bird belonging to the crake and rail family, Rallidae. The Baillon's crake is distributed in Europe, Central Asia, Indian subcontinent, Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia. This crake species is named after French naturalist Louis Antoine Francois Baillon.

Taxonomy of Baillon's crake

  • Scientific Name: Zapornia pusilla
  • Common Name: Baillon's crake
  • French: Marouette de Baillon; German: Zwergsumpfhuhn; Spanish: Polluela chica;
  • Other names: Rallus pusillus Pallas, 1776; Porzana pusilla (Pallas, 1776); marsh crake and tiny crake;
  • Family: Rallidae › Gruiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Pallas, 1776)
The recognized six subspecies of Zapornia pusilla are: Z. p. intermedia (Hermann, 1804), Z. p. pusilla (Pallas, 1776), Z. p. mira (Riley, 1938), Z. p. mayri (Junge, 1952), Z. p. palustris (Gould, 1843) and Z. p. affinis (G. R. Gray, 1845). Earlier it was included under the genus Porzana.


The Baillon's crake is a small bird measuring 16 to 18 cm. The male crake weighs around 20 to 40 grams and the female weighs 15 to 55 grams. The wingspan is 30 to 35 cm. It has a short, straight, yellowish bill without a reddish base. The long legs and toes are greenish. The eyes are reddish. The upperparts are brown with some white markings. The crake has gray face, throat and underparts. In some species the throat and belly may be whitish. Their short tail is barred black and white underneath. Their call is a loud rattling sound.
Indian birds - Baillon's crake - Zapornia pusilla
Birds of India - Baillon's crake - Zapornia pusilla
Birds of India - Baillon's crake - Zapornia pusilla
Indian birds - Baillon's crake - Zapornia pusilla
Indian birds - Baillon's crake - Zapornia pusilla
Birds of India - Baillon's crake - Zapornia pusilla


The Baillon's crake species inhabit freshwater, brackish or saline wetlands, coastal marshes, swamps, peat bogs, flooded meadows, irrigated and flooded agricultural fields, fish farms with vegetation and sewage ponds.

Feeding habits

The Baillon's crake species feed on small fish, invertebrates, aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, worms and mollusks. They also feed on vegetable matters like seeds, grass, shoots and berries.


These crake species in Europe breeds during May to July. Individual resident populations breed with respect to local weather seasons, usually nesting during or just after the wet season. The nest is a raised platform of plant material.


The Baillon's crake subspecies Z. p. intermedia is distributed in Europe and Africa. The subspecies Z. p. pusilla is distributed in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Indian subcontinent, China, Japan, Indonesia and Philippines. Z. p. palustris is distributed in New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania. The subspecies Z. p. mira occurs in Borneo. The subspecies Z. p. mayri is distributed in New Guinea. The subspecies Z. p. affinis occurs in New Zealand.

Movement and migration Patterns

The Baillon's crake populations in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia and Indian subcontinent are resident and make local movements for breeding and feeding. The crake populations from Europe and north and central Asia are fully migratory. They move southwards to the wintering grounds during August and November and return north to their breeding grounds in early March and May.

Conservation status and concerns

The Baillon's crake global population is estimated to number 13,000 to 37,000 individual birds. But the population trend could not be determined. However, as it has a very large range, it is considered not Vulnerable. Destruction, modification and fragmentation of the wetlands, expansion of agriculture and loss of grasslands, reed cutting and burning and the collisions with powerlines during migration are the main threats for the survival of these crake species.

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

Biological classification of Zapornia parva
Species:Z. parva
Binomial name:Zapornia parva
Distribution:Indian subcontinent, Africa, Europe, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia;
Feeding habits:feeds on invertebrates, aquatic insects, water beetles, worms and mollusks; also feeds on seeds, grass, shoots and berries;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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