(2012) Porzana parva.
THE LITTLE CRAKE.
Rallus parvus Scop., Ann. I. Hist. Nat., p. 108 (1769) (Carniola). Porzana parva Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 164.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Centre of crown and neck dark brown, slightly rufous; remainder of upper parts more olive-brown, darkest on the rump; upper back, scapulars and innermost secondaries with broad black streaks and a few narrow white ones, these latter also extending to the lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts; wing-coverts light brown; quills darker brown; supercilia, sides of head and neck, chin, throat and whole lower plumage rather dark ashy-grey, the extreme posterior abdomen, flanks and under tail-coverts banded brown and white; under wing-coverts and axillaries light slaty-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red, brown in young birds; bill green, the base red in summer; legs and feet yellowish-green to dull pale slaty-green.
Measurements. Total length about 200 mm.; wing 95 to 106 mm.; tail 50 to 60 mm.; tarsus 30 to 31 mm.; culmen 18 to 20 mm.
Female, Supercilia and face paler grey; chin, throat and fore-neck almost white, becoming isabelline-buff on the rest of the lower parts, the vent and surrounding parts with under tail-coverts barred white and brown.
Very young birds have the supercilia, face and whole lower plumage white, barred with blackish-brown. These bars gradually disappear and in a more advanced stage the young become replicas of the female with very pale, almost white underparts.
Nestling. All black.
Distribution. Throughout South and Central Europe and South-western and Central Asia, migrating in Winter to Northern Africa and to India into Sind and Baluchistan; Scully also obtained it in Gilgit.
Nidification. The Little Crake breeds throughout South and Central Europe as well as in Western Asia, probably as far East as Persia and Turkestan. The breeding-season lasts from early May to the end of June, though a few birds continue to breed as late as the middle of July. The nest differs in no way from that of the other Rails and, like them, is placed in any thick vegetation around lakes, swamps or the banks of streams. The eggs number from six to twelve, generally seven or eight. The ground-colour is a pale ochre or buff-brown, sometimes with a rather greenish tint, whilst the markings consist of numerous blotches and spots of darker brown scattered fairly numerously over the whole surface. There are also a few underlying spots of neutral tint, which in some eggs are rather more numerous and make the general tone of the egg more dull and grey. The surface is smooth and generally glossless. The average of one hundred eggs is 30.45 x 21.73 mm.; maxima 30.5 x 23.0 mm.; minima 28.0 x 19.0 mm.
Habits. This little Rail is an inveterate skulker and may be rather less rare than it appears to be in India. In all respects its habits are typical of the family and it swims well and can dive also. Its diet is mainly insectivorous and these mostly aquatic as this Rail keeps much to lakes and swamps.