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The corncrake (Crex crex) is a land rail belonging to the family Rallidae. The corncrake species are distributed in the temperate regions of northern Europe northern Asia, Siberia and China. The corncrake species of birds migrate to Africa for wintering. Occasionally, some populations of the corncrake are seen wintering in India.

Taxonomy of Corncrake

  • Scientific Name: Crex crex
  • Common Name: Corncrake
  • French: Râle des genêts; German: Wachtelkönig; Spanish: Guión de codornices;
  • Other names: Corn crake; landrail; Crex pratensis; Rallus Crex Linnaeus, 1758;
  • Family: Rallidae › Gruiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Crex crex was previously known as Rallus Crex Linnaeus, 1758.


The corncrake are small birds, measuring 27 to 30 cm in length. The male birds are larger and weigh 130 to 210 grams. The female corncrake weigh 140 to 160 grams. The wingspan is 40 to 50 cm. The upper parts are brown and have black streaks. The face, neck and breast are blue-gray. The underparts are pale brown with cinnamon barring on the flanks. The under-tail is barred chestnut and white. The beak is flesh-colored and the legs and feet are grayish. The iris is pale brown. There is a pale brown streak from the base of the bill to behind the eye. The male corncrake call is a loud, repetitive "krek krek" sound.
Birds of India - Corncrake - Crex crex
Indian birds - Corncrake - Crex crex
Indian birds - Corncrake - Crex crex
Birds of India - Corncrake - Crex crex
Birds of India - Corncrake - Crex crex
Indian birds - Corncrake - Crex crex


The wintering corncrake inhabit dry grassland, dry to moist meadows and savanna habitats. The breeding birds inhabit open or semi-open habitats, mainly meadows with tall grass.

Feeding habits

The corncrake feeds primarily on invertebrates, insects, worms, small frogs and mammals. It also feeds on seeds, grass, shoots and berries.


The breeding season of these corncrake species lasts from April to August. The males are generally polygamous. The nest is built on the ground with stones and leaves, among dense vegetation. The clutch may contain up to ten eggs. Sometimes two broods are raised in a season.


The corncrake species are distributed in their breeding grounds in North Europe, North China and Central Siberia. They are seen in their wintering grounds in southern African countries. Vagrant populations have been recorded in Indian subcontinent and Americas.

Movement and migration Patterns

The corncrake species are long distant migrants. They leave the breeding grounds in August to December for Southern Africa for wintering. They stop along the migration route for rest and feeding. They return to breeding grounds in early summer.

Conservation status and concerns

The corncrake global population is estimated to be around 5.5 to 9.7 million individual birds. Though there was sharp decline in the numbers in the late 1990s, the world population is now stable and there is a marginal increase. Mechanized mowing and increased predation are the main threats to the survival of these corncrake species.

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

Biological classification of Crex crex
Species:C. crex
Binomial name:Crex crex
Distribution:North Europe, North China and Central Siberia; winters in Africa and wintering populations are sometimes seen in India;
Feeding habits:feeds primarily on invertebrates, insects, worms, small frogs and mammals; also feeds on seeds, grass, shoots and berries;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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