(2024) Amaurornis akool akool.
THE BROWN CRAKE.
Rallus akool Sykes, P.Z. S. 1832, p. 164 (Deccan),
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Whole upper parts, wings and tail dark olive-brown, the quills rather darker brown and less olive; lores, indistinct supercilia, sides of head and neck and lower plumage ashy-grey, passing into brown on the posterior abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts; chin and centre of throat whitish, passing into the grey of the surrounding parts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown in young birds to blood-red in breeding males; bill greenish-horny to pale green, more blue at the tip ; legs and feet fleshy-brown to livid purple.
Measurements. Wing 114 to 131 mm.; tail 54 to 63 mm.; tarsus 46 to 51 mm.; culmen 28 to 32 mm. Females average smaller than males. Chicks in down. Black.
Distribution. Northern India from Kashmir to Gowhati in West Assam, South to Bengal, Behar, Central Provinces, the South Deccan, Mysore and Rajputana, I cannot trace any specimen from North Khasia Hills, nor did I ever see it there myself. There is on the other hand a specimen in the British Museum from Gowhati in the Kamroop District.
Nidification The Brown Crake breeds from May to September, making a pad nest of reeds, grass or rushes and water-weeds either in among the reeds quite close above the water or a more substantial nest of the same materials mixed with twigs, leaves and creepers which it places in a thick bush or tangle of canes in or close to the water. The nest is nearly always well concealed and, as it is small for the size of the bird, is not easy to find. The number of eggs laid varies from four to six and in appearance are very like rather richly-coloured eggs of the Common Water-Rail. The ground-colour is anything from a pale yellow- or pinkish-stone to a warm salmon or buff. The markings consist of fairly bold, well-defined spots and blotches of pale reddish-brown to deep reddish-purple, scanty everywhere but rather less so at the larger end.
Habits. Like all the Bails this is a very shy bird, keeping to dense cover in swamps and on the borders of streams. Its flight is said to be heavy and slow but its speed on foot and its agility in climbing reeds and bushes remarkable. It feeds largely on land-snails, slugs, worms etc. and for this purpose comes into the open in the very early mornings and late evenings.