The Black CrakeAmaurornis flavirostra, is a waterbird in the rail and crake family Rallidae. It breeds in most of sub-Saharan Africa except in very arid areas. It undertakes some seasonal movements in those parts of its range which are subject to drought. No subspecies have been described.
The adult Black Crake is 7.5–9.1 in long with a short tail and long toes. As its name implies, the adult has mainly black plumage, with a brown olive tone on the wings and upperparts which is rarely detectable in the field. The eye is red, the bill is yellow (hence the flavirostra of the binomial name), and the legs and feet are red, duller when not breeding.
The sexes are similar, but the male is slightly larger. Most males, but only 10% of females, have a hooked upper mandible.
The habitat of this common to abundant species is freshwater marshes of all types, as long as there is some vegetation to provide cover. Many rails are very secretive, but the Black Crake is often seen out in the open. It has benefited from human activity in the form of deforestation, and is rarely hunted because of its unpalatable flesh.
The Black Crake is extremely aggressive when breeding and will attack birds of many species, but especially other rails. It will attack and kill rails of species as large as itself.
The Black Crake is diurnal, and this confiding bird will feed close to humans and often in the open. It eats a wide range of invertebrates, small fish, frogs and seeds. It will take the eggs of birds and scavenge on carcasses. It will forage on the ground or climb reeds to find prey including flying insects.
This species will perch on hippopotamuses and warthogs and remove parasites.