Australian Spotted Crake

Did you know?

The Australian Spotted Crake was first scientifically described by John Gould in 1843. The first part of its Latin name, Porzana, is a local (Venetian) name for the smaller crakes. Fluminea just means 'frequenting rivers'.

The Australian Spotted Crake most common call is a sharp, metallic double-note call. Other calls are a single-note call, descibed as querulous and given when the bird is disturbed from its nest; a chattering; and a prolonged wheezing note.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
August - January, but late April recorded
Clutch Size: 
3 - 6, usually 4 - 5
Conservation Status
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What does it look like?

The adult Australian Spotted Crake is dark grey on its face, forehead, throat and chest. The crown of its head, the back of its neck and its upper parts are brownish olive, streaked black and finely spotted with white. Its lower flanks are black barred white, and the underside of its tail is white. It has an olive-green bill with an orange-red area at the bill's base. Its legs and feet are green to olive yellow. The female is similar to the male but duller with less contrast in its plumage colours. This bird is also known as the Australian, Spotted or Water Crake.

Similar species: 

Baillon's Crake, Porzana pusilla, is smaller but generally paler, with richer cinnamon-brown upper parts and a pale grey underbody. The underside of its tail is barred not white and it's call is quite different to that of the Australian Spotted Crake. The Spotless Crake, Porzana tabuensis, is also similar but it is darker and more uniform than the  Australian Spotted Crake. The Spotless Crake also has barring on the underside of its tail and has pinkish or reddish legs. Again its call is quite different to the Australian Spotted Crake's. Lewin's Rail, Rallus pectoralis, can be distinguished from the Australian Spotted Crake by its reddish forehead and neck and its long, slender pinkish bill.  

Where does it live?

The Australian Spotted Crake is mainly found in the south-east and the south-west of Australia. It is rare in Queensland. It is widespread in much of New South Wales away from the coast, in much of Victoria and in north-eastern South Australia. It is uncommon in Tasmania. In Western Australia it is found in the south-west and also in the Kimberleys. It is sparse or not found elsewhere in W.A. It is now probably common around Alice Springs also.


The Australian Spotted Crake is found in the well-vegetated edges of wetlands, whether permanent or temporary, fresh or saltwater. It is usually found among dense growths of plants such as saltbush, reeds, rushes, mangroves, thick grass, or dense shrubs such as Bottle-brush (Callistemon) or Tea-tree (Melaleuca). 

Seasonal movements: 

The Australian Spotted Crake does not appear to be a migratory species. They do appear in unusually large numbers at times, suddenly appearing and then departing. They can be abundant after heavy rains and floods. 

What does it do?

Australian Spotted Crakes eat seeds, molluscs, insects, crustaceans and spiders. They usually feed early or late in the day, on the ground. They forage on mudflats, and in reed beds. They will also wade in shallow water or swim probing underwater, oftening submerging their heads while doing this.


Australian Spotted Crakes nest in swamps or lakes in a variety of vegetation types, such as rushes, grass, low shrubs and water-lilies. They may also nest on overhanging tree branches or on the ground. Nests are often in the centre of a clump of rushes. Some nests have a stage or track leading to them.  Nests can vary from a flat, flimsy structure to a cup of fine, woven material, sometimes with a dome or with rushes interlaced over the nest. Nests are made of rushes or grass and lined with soft grass.

Living with us

Australian Spotted Crake habitat has been destroyed by the reclamation of wetlands and by cattle grazing near wetlands. However they benefit from artificial wetlands, including saltworks and sewerage farms.

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