BIRDS of THE WORLD - An Online Bird Book


Gruiformes means "crane-like",  The order include 14 species of large cranes, about 145 species of smaller crakes and rails, as well as a variety of families comprising a small number of species.

Guiformes has the following families
Aramidae: limpkin
Gruidae: cranes
Heliornithidae: finfoots
Psophiidae: trumpeters
Rallidae: coots, gallinules, moorhens
Rallidae: crakes, rails
Sarothruridae: flufftails

   Family Rallidae: Crakes, Rails  (Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe)
See also Crakes, Rails (New World)

The crakes, and rails of the Railidae family generally occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. They are omnivores. Most nest in dense vegetation. Most species walk and run vigorously on strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. Some coots and gallinules have a "frontal shield", which is a fleshy rearward extension of the upper bill. The flight of those Rallidae able to fly, while not very powerful, can be sustained for long periods of time and many species undertake annual migrations.

Genus Aenigmatolimnas - 1 species

Crake,_Striped  Aenigmatolimnas marginalis Found: Afica
Image by: 1) James_Hogg - Rwanda
1) Female

Genus Amaurornis
Mostly found in Asia; Black Crake found in Africa

Bush-hen,_Isabelline  also  Sulawesi Waterhen  Amaurornis isabellina  Found: Indonesia
The Isabelline Bush-hen has olive-brown upperparts; green bill; rufous underparts.
Image by: 1) Ariefrahman  2) Sergey_Yeliseev 

Bush-hen,_Plain   Amaurornis olivacea   Found: Philippines
Image by: 1) Francesco_Veronesi

Bush-hen,_Rufous-tailed also Rufous-tailed Waterhen  Amaurornis moluccana  Found: Australia, New Guinea, Solomon Islands
The Rufous-tailed Bush-hen has dark rufous-brown plumage.
Image by: 1) Tom_Tarrant

Bush-hen,_Talaud  Amaurornis magnirostris  Found: Karakelang Island in the Talaud Islands of Indonesia
The Talaud Bush-hen has dark brown upperparts; green bill; bluish-gray underparts.
Image by: 1) Jim_Wardill

Crake,_Black Amaurornis flavirostra also Zapornia flavirostra  Found: Africa
The Black Crake has black plumage; red eyes, legs; yellow bill.
Similar to: Eurasian Coot. Black Crake has yellow bill and no frontal shield; Eurasian Coot has white bill and frontal shield.
Image by: 1) Nik_Borrow - Ethiopia  2, 3) Arno Meintjes   4) Lip Kee Yap 5) Pascal Charbonneau - South Africa  6) Dick Daniels - Bronx Zoo
1) Juvenile

Crake,_Brown also Brown Bush-hen Amaurornis akool also Zapornia akool Found: south Asia
Image by: 1, 2) J M Garg - India

Rail,_Sakalava  Amaurornis olivieri  Found: Madagascar
Image by: 1) Laval Roy

Waterhen,_White-breasted  Amaurornis phoenicurus  Found: Asia
The White-breasted Waterhen has gray upperparts, flanks; white face, neck, breast; cinnamon lower belly, undertail.
Image by: 1)  Imran_Shah - Pakistan  2) Lip Kee - Bali  3) Bhardwaj Shanthanu - India   4) Darren Bellerby - Hong Kong Wetland Park, Hong Kong

Crake,_White-browed  Amaurornis cinerea  also Porzana cinerea  Found: Australia, Asia 
The White-browed Crake has a black eyestripe with white stripes above and below; black and brown upperparts; gray to white underparts.
Image by:  1) JJ Harrison - Thailand  2) P Henne  3) Hiyashi_Haka  4) Brian_McCauley

Genus Aramidopsis - 1 species

Rail,_Snoring  Aramidopsis plateni  Found: Sulawesi and Buton of Indonesia
The Snoring Rail has brown wings; rufous patch on hind-neck; white chin; gray underparts.
Image by: 1) Adolf_Bernard_Meyer

Genus Atlantisia - 1 species

Rail,_Inaccessible  Atlantisia rogersi  Found: Inaccessible Island in the Tristan Archipelago (far from Africa and South America)
The Inaccessible Rail is the smallest flightless bird in the world.
Image by: 1, 2) Brian_Gratwicke

Genus Canirallus - 1 species

Rail,_Gray-throated  Canirallus oculeus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Totodu74  2) Cyril_Laffargue

Genus Coturnicops
See also Coturnicops New World.

Rail,_Swinhoe's  Coturnicops exquisitus  Found: China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea,
The Swinhoe's rail is the world's smallest rail.
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Gilles_Delforge - China

Genus Crecopsis - 1 species

Crake,_African  Crecopsis egregia  Found: most of sub-Saharan Africa
The African Crake has brown upperparts with blackish streaks; blue-gray underparts; black-and-white barred belly, flanks; whitish supercilium; stubby red bill; red eyes.
Image by: 1) Mark_Tittley - South Africa  2) Derek_Keats - Botswana  3) Nik_Borrow - Uganda

Genus Crex

Crake,_Corn  Crex Crex  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya   2, 3) Dave Curtis - England  4) Marcel_Holyoak - Jordan

Genus Dryolimnas - 1 species

Rail,_White-throated  Dryolimnas cuvieri  Found: Comoros, Madagascar, Mayotte, Seychelles
Image by: 1) David Cook - Madagascar  2) Pat and Keith Taylor  3) Jerry_Oldenettel

Genus Eulabeornis - 1 species

Rail,_Chestnut   Eulabeornis castaneoventris  Found: Australia, New Guinea
Image by: 1) Tom Tarrant  2) Summerdrought

Genus Gallicrex - 1 species

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea  Found: Asia including Indonesia, Philippines
The Watercock has mainly gray-black plumage; red legs.
Image by: 1) Vijay_Ismavel   2)  Lin_Sun_Fong  3) Koshy - India 4) Hiyashi_Haka  5)  LonelyShrimp
1) Juvenile male  2) Female  3 - 5) Male

Genus Gallirallus
Many of these rails that live in the Australasian-Pacific region are flightless. The ones that can fly survive better; not only because of avoiding predators but also because they are not restricted to one location.

Rail,_Barred  Gallirallus torquatus  Found: Indonesia, Philippines
Image by: 1) John Tasirin - North Sulawesi, Indonesia  2) Francesco_Veronesi - Mindanao, Philippines  3) Ariefrahman

Rail,_Buff-banded Gallirallus philippensis   Found: Australasia
Image by:  1, 2) Dick Daniels - Miami Zoo   3) Dick - Kuranda Birdworld, Australia  4) Dick - Kiwi Birdlife Park, New Zealand  5) Oystercatcher  6) HeatherW - Victoria

Rail,_Calayan  Gallirallus calayanensis  Found: Calayan Island in the Philippines
The Calayan Rail has dark brown plumage; orange-red bill, legs. It is flightless.
Image by: 1) James_Eaton

Rail,_Guam  Gallirallus owstoni  Found: Guam
Almost extinct. However, successfully bred in some zoos.
Image by: 1) Greg Hume - Cincinnati Zoo  2) Dick Daniels - National Aviary  3) Sandy Cole - National Aviary

Rail,_Lord Howe  also  Lord Howe Woodhen  Gallirallus sylvestris  Found: Lord Howe Island off Australia coast
Image by: 1) Glen Gergus  2) Toby Hudson  3) Dracophylla

Rail,_New_Britain  also Pink-legged Rail  Gallirallus insignis  Found: New Britain Island (northeast of Papua New Guinea)
The New Britain Rail is also called the Pink-legged Rail.
Image by: 1) Joseph_Smit

Rail,_Okinawa  Gallirallus okinawae  Found: Okinawa Island in Japan
The Okinawa Rail has olive-brown upperparts; black underparts with white bars; red bill, legs.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Patrick-Randall

Rail,_Roviana  Gallirallus rovianae  Found: Solomon Islands
Image by: 1) Salvatore_Chamu

Rail,_Slaty-breasted    Gallirallus striatus  Found: Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia
Image by: 1) Hiyashi_Haka  Hume and Marshall  2, 3) Hiyashi Haka - Taiwan  4) Devon_Pike - Malaysia

Weka also Woodhen  Gallirallus australis   Found: New Zealand
Weka have rich brown plumage mottled with black and gray; large reddish bill; sturdy legs and reduced wings; light supercilium.
Image by: 1) Arthur Chapman  2) Hutty McPhoo  3) Alan Liefting 4) Glen Fergus  5) Sid Mosdell
5) Buff Weka (G. a. hectori)

Genus Gymnocrex

Rail,_Bare-eyed  Gymnocrex plumbeiventris  Found: New Guinea and nearby islands
The Bare-eyed Rail has bare pink orbital skin.
Image by: 1) Katerina_Tvardikova 2) Hanom_Bashari

Rail,_Blue-faced  Gymnocrex rosenbergii  Found: Sulawesi of Indonesia
Image by: 1) Materialscientist  2) Sam_Woods

Rail,_Talaud  Gymnocrex talaudensis  Found: Talaud Islands of Indonesia
Image by: 1) Bram_Demeulemeester

Genus Habroptila - 1 species

Rail,_Invisible   Habroptila wallacii  Found: Halmahera in North Maluku, Indonesia
The Invisible Rail has slate-gray plumage; bright red bare skin around eye; red bill, legs.
Image by: 1) Shyamal  2) Paulo_Alves

Genus Himantornis - 1 species

Rail,_Nkulengu Himantornis haematopus   Found: Africa
The Nkulengu Rail is found in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Uganda.
Image by:  1, 2) Nick Borrow - Ghana
1) Juvenile

Genus Lewinia
Found in: Australasia

Rail,_Auckland_Islands  Lewinia muelleri  Found: Auckland Islands 460 km south of New Zealand
The Auckland Islands Rail has chestnut upperparts; gray breast;  red-brown head; black-and-white barred flanks; red bill.
Image by: 1) Rod_Morris

Rail,_Brown-banded  Lewinia mirifica  Found: Philippines
Image by: 1)  2) Desmond_Allen - Luzon
2) Juvenile

Rail,_Lewin's  Lewinia pectoralis  Found: Australia, New Guinea
Image by: 1) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) Wayne_Butterworth

Genus Megacrex - 1 species

Rail,_New_Guinea_Flightless   Megacrex inepta  Found: New Guinea
Image by: 1, 2) Nik_Borrow

Genus Mentocrex

Rail,_Madagascar Wood-  Mentocrex kioloides  Found: Madagascar
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Pete Morris

Rail,_Tsingy_Wood-   Mentocrex beankaensis  Found: west-central Madagascar
Image by: 1, 2) James_Williams

Genus Nesoclopeus - 1 species

Rail,_Woodford's  Nesoclopeus woodfordi  Found: New Guinea, Solomon Islands
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans

Genus Porzana
See also Porzana New World.

Crake,_Australian  also Australian Spotted Crake  Porzana fluminea  Found: Australia
The Australian Crake has olive-brown upperparts with black streaks and white freckles; white undertail; dark gray throat, breast; black-and-white barred lower flanks; greenish-yellow bill, orange at base; greenish legs.
Image by: 1) Oystercatcher  2) Tony Morris   3) Frankzed - Victoria, AU  4) David Jenkins - Victoria

Crake,_Baillon's  Porzana pusilla  also Zapornia pusilla  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa, Madagascar, Australasia
The Baillon's Crake has mainly brown upperparts with some white markings; blue-gray face, underparts; yellow or green bill.
Image by: 1) Batupa    2) Frankie Chu  3) birdsaspoetry - Australia  4) Peter Jacobs

Crake,_Band-bellied  Porzana paykullii also Zapornia paykullii Found: Asia
Image by: 1) Sung_Yik-hei  2) Naturelly - Singapore  3) Orban.Balazs

Crake,_Black-tailed  Porzana bicolor also Zapornia bicolorFound: Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam
Image by: 1) JJ_Harrison - Thailand 2) Jason_Thompson - Thailand  3) Dibyendu_Ash - India  4) Brendan_Ryan

Crake,_Henderson  Porzana atra also Zapornia atra Found: Henderson Island in the southeast Pacific Ocean.
The Henderson Crake has black plumage; red eyes; orange legs.
Image by: 1) p_khoo  2) Orban_Balazs

Crake,_Little  Porzana parva  also Zapornia parva  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The male Little Crake has mainly brown upperparts; blue-gray face, underparts; yellow bill with red base. Female has mainly buff plumage; gray face.
Image by: 1) Martien Brand  2) Francesco_Veronesi.  3, 4) Imran_Shah - Pakistan 

Crake,_Ruddy-breasted  Porzana fusca  also Zapornia fusca  Found: Asia 
The Ruddy-breasted Crake has brown back; chestnut head, underparts; black-and-white barred lower flank, undertails; red eyes, legs.
Image by: 1, 2) Hiyashi Halso  3) lonelyshrimp - Thailand

Crake,_Spotless  Porzana tabuensis also Zapornia tabuensis  Found: Australasia
The Spotless Crake has brown upperparts; dark gray head, throat, underparts; red eyes.
Image by: 1) Oystercatcher  2) Aviceda   3) Frankzed

Crake,_Spotted  Porzana porzana  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The Spotted Crake has mainly brown upperparts; blue-gray breast; dark barring and white spots on flanks; short yellow bill with red base; green legs.
Similar to: Water Rail. Spotted Crake has short yellow bill with red base; Water Rail has long red bill.
Image by: 1) Marek Szczepanek  2) Mick Sway   3) Marek_Szczepanek 

Genus Rallina
Found: Asia, Australasia

Crake,_Andaman  Rallina canningi  Found: India
The Andaman Crake has glossy chestnut upperparts; blackish head, neck, breast; green bill, legs; boldly barred belly.
Image by: 1, 2) TR_Shankar_Raman

Crake,_Red-legged  Rallina fasciata  Found: India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malyasio, Thailand
The Red-legged Crake has gray-brown upperparts; red-brown head, neck, breast; black-and-white barred belly.
Image by: 1) Johnny_Wee  2) Darren_Bellerby - Singapore  3) David_Cook

Crake,_Red-necked  Rallina tricolor  Found: northeast Australia, New Guinea and nearby islands
The Red-necked Crake has gray-brown upperparts; red-brown head, neck, breast; gray-brown belly.
Image by: 1) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) Tom_Tarrant - north Queensland  3) Francesco_Veronesi  4) Brian_McCauley
1) Incomplete range

Crake,_Slaty-legged  Rallina eurizonoides  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Philippines
The Slaty-legged Crake has brown back; chestnut head, neck, breast; black-and-white barred belly; whitish throat; green legs.
Image by: 1) Richard2formosa  2) TJ_Parpan  3) Jason_Thompson - Thailand  4) THE PHOTOMATION 
1) Adult and chick

Rail,_Chestnut_Forest  Rallina rubra  Found: New Guinea
The male Chestnut Forest Rail has reddish chestnut plumage; female has spotted upper mantle.
Image by: 1) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) Joseph_Smit  3) Jerry_Oldenettel

Rail,_Forbe's  Rallina forbesi  Found: New Guinea
The male Forbe's Rail distinguished from other mountain ralis by its unpatterned lower back.
Image by: 1, 3) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) John Gould
2) Male on left; female on right 3) female

Rail,_Mayr's  Rallina mayri  Found: New Guinea
Image by: 1) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) Salvatore_Chamu
2) Female - upper; male - lower

Rail,_White-striped_Forest  Rallina leucospila  Found: northwest Papua New Guinea
Image by: 1)

Genus Rallus
These are slim, long-billed rails with slender legs. Their laterally flattened bodies are an adaptation to life in wet reedbeds and marshes, enabling them to slip easily through the dense semi-aquatic vegetation. Typically these birds have streaked brown upperparts, blue-grey on the face or breast, and barred flanks.
See also Rallus New World.

Rail,_African  Rallus caerulescens  Found: Africa
The African Rail has mainly brown upperparts; blue-gray underparts;  black-and-white barring on flanks, undertail; dull red bill; red legs.
Similar to: Water Rail. Water Rail has dark streaks on upperparts; African rail does not have streaks.
Image by: 1) Alan Manson - South Africa  2, 3) Derek_Keats

Rail,_Brown-cheeked  also  Eastern Water Rail  Rallus indicus  Found: Asia
The Brown-cheeked Rail has brown upperparts with dark streaks; brown tinged underparts; brown eye-line.
Similar to: Water Rail. Brown-cheeked Rail has brown eye-line; Water Rail does not.
Image by: 1) characters  2) Hank

Rail,_Madagascar  Rallus madagascariensis  Found: Madagascar
The Madagascar Rail has mainly plain brown plumage; some streaks on upperparts, breast; grayish throat, face; white under-tail.
Image by: 1) Marc des Murs  2) David Cook

Rail,_Water  Rallus aquaticus  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The Water Rail has mainly brown upperparts with dark streaks; blue-gray face, underparts; black barring on flanks; long reddish bill.
Similar to: African Rail. Water Rail has dark streaks on upperparts; African rail does not have streaks.
Similar to: Brown-cheekedl. Brown-cheeked Rail has brown eye-line; Water Rail does not.
Similar to: Spotted Crake. Spotted Crake has short yellow bill with red base; Water Rail has long red bill.
Image by: 1) Jan Svetlík  2) Pierre Dalous  3) Rudo Jurecek  4) Cristiano Crolle - Racconigi, Italy

Genus Rougetius - 1 species

Rail,_Rouget's  Rougetius rougetii  Found: Eritrea, Ethiopia
Image by: 1) Kris_Maes  2) Rafael_Medina - Ethiopia  3) Carsten_ten_Brink - Ethopia  4) Nik_Borrow - Ethiopia


 Order Gruiformes    Family Heliornithidae

The Heliornithidae are a small family of tropical birds with webbed lobes on their feet like those of grebes and coots. Finfoots resemble rails; they have long necks, slender bodies, broad tails, and sharp, pointed bills. Their legs and feet are brightly colored and, unlike grebes, they are capable of walking well and even moving quickly on land. They have a diverse range of calls, but do not call frequently.

Genus Heliornis - 1 species

Finfoot, American  also  Sungrebe  Heliornis fulica  Found: Mexico to South America
The American Finfoot has mainly brown plumage; black crown, nape; white throat, chin, extended supercilium; lobed toes banded with dull yellow and black. Female has rufous patch on face.
Image by: 1) Allan Hopkins - Guyana  2) Muchaxo  3) Dave Curtis - Guyana 
1, 2) Female 3) Male

Genus Heliopais - 1 species

Finfoot,_Masked   Heliopais personatus  Found: Indian subcontinent, Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia
The Masked Finfoot has brown upperparts; black mask tapers to black neck streak; sharp bill; green lobed feet; pale breast. Male has black chin; female has white chin.
Image by: 1) - Kuala Lumpur     2) pinned 
1, 2) Female

Genus Podica - 1 species

Finfoot, African  Podica senegalensis  Found: Africa
The African finfoot is an underwater specialist with a long neck, a striking sharp bill, and bright red, lobed feet. The plumage varies by race, generally pale underneath and darker on top. The males are usually darker than the females.
Image by: 1) Sias van Schalkwyk - South Africa   2) Frans_Vandewalle - Gambia  2) Lodewijk Nell - Zambia  4) Gip Gipukan  5) Francesco Veronesi - Uganda

Order Gruiformes   Family Sarothruridae - 1 genus

The flufftails are related to the rails. They are found in sub-S aharan Africa and also in Madagascar. They are secretive birds and difficult to observe. The eggs of all species that have been observed are white, which is unusual for rails. Their tails are short and softer than normal.

Genus Sarothrura

Flufftail, Buff-spotted  also  Buff-spotted Crake  Sarothrura elegans  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2) Bart Wursten - Zimbabwe  3) David_Bygott - Tanzania

Flufftail,_Chestnut-headed  Sarothrura lugens  Found: Africa
The Chestnut-headed Flufftail has chestnut colored head.
Image by: 1)

Flufftail, Madagascar  Sarothrura insularis  Found: humid forest of east and northwest Madagascar
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans 2) Callan_Cohen

Flufftail_Red-chested  Sarothrura rufa  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Peter_Ginn - South Africa
1) Female 2) male

Flufftail, Slender-billed  Sarothrura watersi  Found: highlands of east Madagascar
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Lucienne Wilma

Flufftail,_Streaky-breasted  Sarothrura boehmi  Found: Louis_Andre_Hansen
Image by: 1) Louis_Andre_Hansen - Tanzania

Flufftail,_Striped  Sarothrura affinis  Found: Africa
The male Striped Flufftail has chestnut head; white throat; rest of plumage mainly black with whte stripes. Female has brown replacing black with lighter streaks.
Image by: 1) Niall_Perrins - South Africa

Flufftail,_White-spotted  Sarothrura pulchra  Found: Africa
Image by: 1, 2) Francesco_Veronesi - Ghana  2) Dave Curtis - Kenya  3) Nik_Borrow - Uganda

Flufftail_White-winged  Sarothrura ayresi  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) Clive Kaplan

Back to Top