Bird Families

Corncrake bird


Crake (Crex crex) - an ordinary bird, its cry "crack-crack" can often be heard in a meadow or field, it can be heard at a distance of up to a kilometer, but it is almost impossible to see it. He leaves the pursuit on foot, and he runs very quickly, and takes off extremely rarely. In Western Europe, corncrake has become very rare, but in Russia it is still numerous. Crake is a small bird 22-25 cm long and weighing about 150 g.


It nests on the ground in damp meadows in river valleys overgrown with dense grass, and is common in agricultural lands. The nest is located among the grass, often in thickets of willows or other shrubs. Corncrake often use the plots used for haymaking or for grazing livestock, sometimes they settle in grain and clover fields, in sown alfalfa, on mountain slopes with rare trees, in steppe and alpine meadows. One female is engaged in the construction of the nest. In total, she has 1-2 clutches of eggs per season, each of which consists of 7-12 (usually 9-10) eggs. Incubation lasts 19-20 days, the hatched chicks are covered with black down and leave the nest in a short time. First, we feed them directly to the female. For 10-15 days, the brood stays at a distance of no more than 100-200 m from the nest, after which the chicks become independent of their parents and disperse, although they begin to fly much later - somewhere at the age of 35 days.


During the nesting period landrail feeds mainly on grasshoppers, filly, as well as earthworms and molluscs. Sometimes he also eats small fish and frogs. In autumn and winter it feeds mainly on roots, shoots and grass seeds.


During mating, the males of the corncrake give out a typical nasal creak, which sometimes resembles the sounds of "crack-crack" or "rep-rep". Their screams are similar to the sounds that can be heard if you brush something over a hairbrush. The screams are repeated quite often during the mating season, but it is not easy to find a corncrake just by voice. When the female approaches the male, which is leaking, he begins to perform the mating dance, doing dance "steps" and showing reddish spots on the wings. Sometimes he brings a gift to his chosen one, which can be an earthworm or a snail.

The female digs a small hole and lines it with moss, leaves and stems of grasses. She then lays 7-9 to 12 eggs. The female incubates eggs alone. After three weeks, chicks are born. They are covered with brown-black woolly down. The mother feeds them for the first 3-4 days. Then the chicks themselves find food for themselves. They stay with their mother for a month.

Crake: sounds, screams

Talking about the corncrake bird, it is worth noting that its old Russian name "dergach" came from the jerking, abrupt cry of these birds. The sounds of corncrake birds in open areas can be heard even from a kilometer away. Males are especially different in such loud "singing", females behave more modestly.

Crake, the sounds of which are usually heard at night, at dusk or dawn, are especially different during the mating season. With his loud, as if twitching cry "geek-geek, geek-geek, geek-geek ..." the male tries to attract the attention of females and at the same time challenges competitors.

During his marriage "songs" the corncrake gets so excited that he won't hear if you come too close to him. You only need to walk during the "verses of the song" when the bird screams. At such moments, she simply deafens herself with her own sounds. During the cry, the dergach strongly stretches the neck forward, while turning in different directions.

If the bird is frightened or if it senses danger, an unusually strong and sharp cry will come from its throat, like the chirping of a magpie. Also, the corncrake can surprise us with another sound, rapidly repeating "I". It is with its unusual chants that the corncrake differs from other feathered ones, the description of its cries and sounds is confirmation of this.


Crake is a typical inhabitant of wet meadows. It can be found in fertile areas in fields that are sown with cereals. Crake are nocturnal solitary birds. If the weather is fine, birds go to rest only early in the morning.

Dergachi rarely reveal their location. They run in tall grass, bent to the ground, so that the front of their body and head are below the tail. On the run, the bird constantly nods its head. From time to time, the jerks straighten up and stretch their necks to look around and make sure they are not in danger. In this position, they utter their own special cry. Birds rise into the air only when absolutely necessary. The frightened corncrake slowly lifts off the ground with its legs down and, having flown several meters, sits down in the tall grass. In case of danger, birds often flee. Crake-dergach runs incredibly fast. The narrow body of this bird helps him to run in the grass even where there are no passages.

Types of corncrake

The genus of corncrake includes 2 species: corncrake and African corncrake... The latter is distinguished by its permanent habitat - the south of the Sahara, as well as external features: smaller size, dark plumage above. These both species are monotypic, that is, they have no further downward branching.


Corncrake inhabits fertile areas, especially flat areas, without avoiding, however, hilly areas. The birds most willingly settle in meadows, which are surrounded by grain fields. Dergachi equally dislike very dry and very humid areas.

Corncrake feed on juicy young shoots, seeds and small insects. In the field, the corncrake pecks the grains from the ground that have spilled out of the spikelets, as other chicken-like birds do. In addition to insects, dergachs also willingly eat small snails, millipedes, earthworms and spiders.

The diet

The corncrake bird does not belong to vegetarians, it eats with pleasure both plant foods and food of animal origin. Considering the fact that the dergach prefers to live in fertile areas, he has no problems with obtaining food. For example, having settled next to a grain field, a bird can always get enough of grain and insects.

The corncrake's diet includes seeds, young shoots of plants. The menu is complemented by small insects, centipedes, small snails, earthworms.


On beautiful May evenings from the meadows to hear a strange crackling sound. This sound is heard with small interruptions and until late at night and from early morning until sunrise. The bird that makes this crackle is the corncrake. This is a very shy bird, so you can hear it rather than see it. A good place to listen to corncrake is large swampy, but not too wet meadows near rivers and grain fields, where, in addition to tall and dense grass, bushes also grow. A good way to attract corncrake is to tape their voices. Dergachi are especially active at night. They know how to hide not only in the bushes, but also under the sedge.

Other species of this family:

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Coot Fulica atra

Small pogonysh Porzana parva

Common carrion Porzana porzana

Shepherd boy, or water shepherd boy Rallus aquaticus

Baby Carrier Porzana pusilla

Sultanka Porphyrio poliocephalus


  • The special, two-syllable calls of the males resemble the croaking of frogs. People passed them on in a variety of ways.The Latin name of the corncrake is an example of an attempt to convey the voice of the corncrake in Latin.
  • Crake is also called a jerk.
  • It is not easy to accurately determine the size of individual populations of corncrake. Due to the increase in the number of environmentally friendly farms, the future of corncrake seems more certain today than it was a few years ago.
  • In Germany, many are still convinced that the corncrake is at the head of the quail, the Greeks argued the same. It is still unclear what this assumption is based on.

Features and habitat of corncrake

Literally the entire territory of Russia is inhabited by corncrake. It is impossible to notice it only in the regions of the Far North and the Far East, they are also in Ireland, Great Britain. Many are wondering corncrake is a migratory bird or not... The answer is unequivocal - yes.

Therefore, their life is constantly divided into two stages - life in the main habitat, and life in countries of warm continents. These birds choose for nesting slopes of mountains, meadows, reservoirs, overgrown gardens, forest clearings, semi-dry areas of swamps. It is important that there is high and not too dense vegetation near their nest.

In winter, they live in savannas, meadows and reed thickets. A favorite place for corncrake is the outskirts of sown fields and vegetable gardens. The presence of nearby bodies of water does not mean that they like high humidity. They can't stand it. It is known that the corncrake has no subspecies. He is the one and only representative of its kind. Corncrake arrive relatively late in spring.

In autumn, they prepare their preparations for the flight in advance, before the onset of cold weather. But these preparations are being dragged out. Not all corncrake representatives actively fly away to warmer regions. There are those who decide to take this step in late autumn, during the first severe frosts, and sometimes die from cold weather.

They do not group together when flying in large flocks, without forming large clusters. Most often, they endure flights alone and hide well in the trees, which does not make it possible to still establish the exact time of their arrival.

Some people set this date by their spring squeaky cries, and therefore they make a mistake. Because between the arrival of corncrake and the beginning of their mating season there can be a gap of a couple of weeks. Crake who is this already known. There are still some points to be clarified.


Plumage: the feathers on the back are black-brown with olive-gray spots, so the back of the corncrake is as if covered with scales. The abdomen is light brown with reddish brown stripes. The throat, chest and part of the head are ash gray. On the sides the plumage is brownish-gray with brownish-red transverse spots, on the wings it is brownish-red with yellowish-white spots.

Beak: with its short and strong beak, the corncrake pecks up various seeds.

Chicks: their monochromatic, brown-black color is an exception among birds inhabiting grassy shrubs.

Flight: in flight, the lead-gray legs of the corncrake hang freely behind a short, pointed tail. During migrations, birds keep their legs extended.

Eggs: the female lays up to 12 greenish-gray or reddish-brown eggs covered with gray, red or purple spots.


Corncrake nests from Western and Central Europe to eastern Siberia. In the south, its range reaches the foothills of the Caucasus. Winters in Southeast Africa.


Now the number of European populations of corncrake is declining, since wet meadows are necessary for these birds to inhabit, and they are gradually disappearing from the local landscape.


In size, the corncrake, the photo of which you have already seen, resembles a small, just fledged chicken weighing 125-155 g. Only the old obese dergachs are gaining more weight.The body of the bird visually seems to be flattened from the sides, the tail is rather short, the wing length is 14-16 cm, the beak is short (2-2.2 cm), wide at the base.

From above, the color of the feathers is variegated, reddish-brown. The center of the feather is blackish, the end is grayish. The sides and abdomen are buffy-white, with reddish stripes. The chest, goiter and neck are gray. Eyes are red-brown or hazel. In a word, the corncrake bird, he is also a dergach, looks modest and does not stand out with the brightness of the plumage.

Corncrake curling

Males are the first to arrive at nesting sites, but at first after arrival they behave quietly and do not show themselves in any way. One or two weeks after arrival, the males begin to actively scream, with his cry the male signifies for other males that this territory is occupied and calls on the female to mate.

When the female approaches the current male, the male stops screaming, spreads his wings to the sides, so that their edges touch the ground, stretches and lowers his neck to the ground, fan out the tail feathers and makes muffled sounds, walks in circles around the female.

After mating, the male corncrake screams less actively, and after the end of the laying of eggs, it leaves the female, moves to a new site and begins to mourn again, calling for a new female. Each female manages to breed two offspring per season, mating with different males. This mating system is called sequential polygamy.

The plot of the territory occupied by the male ranges from 3 to 51 hectares, on average 15.7 hectares. The feeding area of ​​the female is significantly less than about 5.5 hectares. On the border of two adjacent areas, skirmishes often occur between males. When another male invades, the male owner of the territory takes a threatening pose, spreads his wings, stretches his neck, spreads his feathers and makes sharp meowing sounds. Most often, the male intruder immediately retreats, but there are times when both males assume belligerent postures and engage in a fight, rushing at each other, pecking and trying to knock down their opponent.

Corncrake nest

The crake makes its nest, choosing a dry place in dense grass, next to a sedge hummock, under the cover of a tree or bush. The nest of the corncrake is rather small, its diameter is 120-150 mm, the height is 70-80 mm, the depth of the tray is 35-40 mm.

For a long time it was believed that the female was engaged in the construction of the nest at the corncrake, and the male did not take any part in this, but it turned out that everything was much more complicated. Males of the corncrake build several nests, and some of them begin to do this even before they have found a female for themselves. The female chooses one of the nests built by the male, and the better and more solidly the nest is built, the more chances the male has to create a family.

The building materials for the nest are: dry stems, sedge, pieces of moss, various roots.

Laying eggs and raising chicks

The female lays one egg per day in the nest, the total number of eggs in the nest can be from 5 to 14, most often there are 7 eggs in the nest. Sometimes nests contain clutches with a very large number of eggs, most often this happens when two females use the nest. The length of the corncrake egg is on average 37 mm, the diameter of the egg is about 27 mm. The shell of the eggshell is whitish-buffy or greenish in color, with reddish-brown or purple spots.

The female corncrake incubates eggs for 16 to 19 days, after which chicks, covered with dark brown down, appear, which on the second day already leave the nest. After 2-3 days, the chicks already begin to forage on their own, and after 34-38 days they already fly. As soon as the chicks of the first brood become completely independent and begin to live their own lives, the female proceeds to the second clutch, and then takes care of the hatched second brood of chicks.

Habitat, habitats

Corncrake is distributed fragmentarily across Eurasia to Transbaikalia, the Far East, in the North - to the Far North, in the south - to the foothills of the Caucasus.Spends wintering in southeastern Africa, south of the equator.

A favorite habitat is tall grass of wet, but not swampy and not dry, floodplain meadows with sparse bushes. It rarely comes to water. It does not require large areas for habitation, therefore it can be found in fields cultivated for agricultural crops: potatoes, cereals, herbaceous plants, as well as in abandoned and overgrown areas of summer cottages, vegetable gardens.

Corncrake meat

Gastronomically, corncrake meat has excellent taste and is valued by many even higher than snipe or snipe meat.

To the taste, corncrake meat is a cross between quail and chicken, to many it resembles a juicy and tender chicken breast.

Corncrake meat is not only tasty, but also very healthy. Corncrake meat contains a large amount of easily digestible protein and has a low calorie content. Only 175 calories per 10 grams of meat. Corncrake meat contains a very small amount of cholesterol, but it contains many beneficial Omega-3 acids. Corncrake meat is considered to be hypoallergenic and can be eaten by people with a tendency to food allergies.

A wide variety of dishes can be prepared from corncrake meat. Crake is cooked on the grill, stewed, boiled, fried, cooked into a casserole. One of the popular corncrake dishes is pilaf. When stewing and frying, they mainly use whole carcasses, without dividing it into pieces.

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