An Eco-sustainable World
BirdsSpecies Animal

Zapornia pusilla

Zapornia pusilla

The Baillon’s crake (Zapornia pusilla Pallas, 1776) is a bird belonging to the Rallidae family.

Systematic –
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Animalia,
Subkingdom Eumetazoa,
Superphylum Deuterostomia,
Phylum Chordata,
Subphylum Vertebrata,
Infraphylum Gnathostomata,
Superclass Tetrapoda,
(clade) Amniote,
Aves class,
Subclass Neornithes,
Superorder Neognathae,
Order Gruiformes,
Rallidae family,
Genus Zapornia,
Species Z. pusilla.
The term is synonymous:
– Porzana pusilla (Pallas, 1776).
The following subspecies are recognized within this species:
– Zapornia. p. intermedia (Hermann, 1804) (Europa, Nordafrica e Asia Minore);
– Zapornia. p. obscura Neumann, 1897 (Africa orientale e meridionale e Madagascar);
– Zapornia. p. pusilla (Pallas, 1776) (Asia centrale e orientale);
– Zapornia. p. mira Riley, 1938 (Borneo);
– Zapornia. p. mayri Junge, 1952 (Nuova Guinea);
– Zapornia. p. palustris Gould, 1843 (Nuova Guinea orientale e Australia);
– Zapornia. p. affinis (G. R. Gray, 1845) (Nuova Zelanda e isole Chatham).

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Zapornia pusilla is a bird present in a very vast range that includes Eurasia, Africa and Australasia.
It is encountered in a wide range of freshwater and brackish water habitats, both inland and coastal regions, with a preference for flooded fields with shallow water. It occupies marshes, marshes, flooded meadows, river banks, water meadows, artificial wetlands and salt marshes. During nesting, it is mostly spotted in the thickets of reeds and tall grasses, but at other times of the year it occupies a greater variety of habitats.
Their reproductive habitat is that of sedges in Europe, mainly in the eastern part, and throughout the Palearctic. Until the mid-19th century they bred in Britain, but the population in Western Europe declined due to drainage. In recent years there has been a resurgence in northwestern Europe, with the recolonization of Germany and the Netherlands and suspected breeding in Britain; an Irish record in 2012 was the first since 1850. They nest in dry places in damp sedge swamps, laying 4-8 eggs. This species is migratory and winters in eastern Africa and southern Asia.
It is also a resident breeder in Africa and Australasia. There is a single finding of this species in North America on Attu Island in September 2000.
In almost all of its range it is found from sea level up to 1500 m above sea level, but in New Guinea it reaches up to 2450 m.

Description –
Zapornia pusilla is a bird with a length dimension of 17–19 cm, with a wingspan of 33–37 cm and a weight of 40-50 g.
The upper regions are reddish-brown and marked by small stripes on the back and wing coverts. The sides are streaked with black and white, the legs are grayish or light in color. The beak is green, without any red spots at the base.
The male has a slate-grey or bluish throat, face and chest, and the subcaudals streaked with black and white.
Young specimens resemble females, but do not yet have the gray coloration of adults, they have a white throat and the neck is spotted brown.
The call is a song that can be confused with the croaking of a frog. The male emits a sound similar to a rolling that lasts a few seconds, and which alternates with swaying of the head, all while pecking among the plants. It sings mostly at night and the sounds are variable.

Biology –
Zapornia pusilla builds a small, well-hidden nest among aquatic plants. This consists of a platform of leaves and plants, generally placed at water level and sometimes closed at the top. It can also be found among shrubs, some distance from the water.
The female lays 6 to 8 dark brown or ocher eggs, with yellowish spots and dots.
Incubation, carried out by both parents, lasts approximately 18-20 days.
The chicks are nidifugous and are raised by their parents until they fledge, around 45 days of age.

Ecological Role –
Zapornia pusilla is a species that performs large migrations and winters mainly in Africa, western Asia and less widely in the Mediterranean basin.
During the long migration it loses the fat accumulated during the autumn. It is active from dawn until mid-morning, and from mid-afternoon until dusk. When it wants to intimidate an intruder, or when it is alert, it ruffles the feathers on its back, extends its wings like fans, and marches around the intruder grumbling.
In territorial disputes, both partners chase away intruders by quickly running across the water and flapping their wings. During wedding parades, they circle in circles a few meters high, shouting warnings.
To feed it comes out of the vegetation and moves carefully among the grasses and aquatic plants, catching insects and pecking here and there.
It feeds on small insects, beetles, moths, spiders, small aquatic molluscs, worms, snails, small crustaceans, small fish (around 20 mm in length), plants, shoots and seeds.

Guido Bissanti

– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– C.Battisti, D. Taffon, F. Giucca, 2008. Atlas of nesting birds, Gangemi Editore, Rome.
– L. Svensson, K.Mullarney, D. Zetterstrom, 1999. Guide to the Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Near East, Harper Collins Publisher, United Kingdom.

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