The water-cock, as it is to be met with in the shooting-season, is a game-looking bird with light brown plumage, diversified by streaks on the back, and bars on the under-parts of a darker shade. It has the usual long legs and toes of a rail, and a leaf-shaped bare patch on the forehead. Although much lighter in build, the male is nearly as big as a coot, the hen being little larger than a moorhen—a sex difference and unique among the rails, as is also the male's assumption of a striking nuptial dress; in this attire he is of dull black on the head, neck, and under-parts, while the bare patch on his forehead, which, like the legs, is red, swells up until it becomes at the end a pointed horn. The female has legs of a dusky green.
The kora, as this bird is generally called, is widely distributed with us, but although it ranges as far north as Japan outside our area, it keeps in our Empire to the warmer districts; it is a thorough marsh-bird, but seems to be rare in some localities where it was formerly common, for Bengal was credited with harbouring plenty of the species, and yet I never saw half a dozen specimens during the whole time I was in Calcutta. The kora is quite a good table-bird, so that if it is getting scarce this is a pity ; but being nocturnal, it is not likely to come under notice in the same way that the diurnal coot and moorhen do.
The breeding-season is during the rains, and the eggs are greyish-buff with mauve and chocolate spots; the nest is among aquatic herbage. Besides Kora, Kengra is Hindustani name for this bird; in Ceylon it is called Willihukulu, Kettala, or Tannir-koli, while the Burmese name is Boun-dote. Its familiarity to natives is no doubt due to the fact that in some districts of the North-east it is reared by hand and kept as a fighting bird.