Eastern Baillon's Crake.
This little bird is even smaller than the little crake, but closely resembles it, having a black-streaked, white-splashed upper-surface and under-parts grey in front and with white cross-bars behind; but in the present bird the cock and hen are alike, and it is only the young which differ in having the breast and throat buffish instead of grey. But the easiest way to distinguish these two tiny crakes, or pigmy moorhens as they might be called, from their habits, is to remember that in the Eastern Baillon's crake the first wing-quill has a white edge, whereas in the little crake this is not the case.
This Eastern race of Baillon's crake of Europe, the original Porzana bailloni, has a dark-brown streak along the face which is wanting in the Western form ; it is generally distributed in India and Burma, and is generally resident, though a good many come in in the cold weather from countries to the northward. It reaches not only Ceylon, but the Andamans, and breeds as far south as Tavoy.
In the plains it may be found nesting up to September, but though nesting begins about the same time in the Himalayas —in June—it does not go on so late there. Wild rice, or rice cultivation, is its favourite haunt, although it is found wherever there is low cover by the waterside, and it shifts about the country a good deal in order to find these desirable conditions. It swims and runs on aquatic plants like the little crake, and dives readily if pressed; but it is shyer, and comes out less into the open, keeping more to swampy places than the open water itself. It is a sociable bird, several being usually found near together, and is also rather noisy, the voice being, according to Hume " a single note, repeated slowly at first, and then several times in rapid succession, winding up with a single and somewhat sharper note in a different tone, as if the bird was glad that the performance was over." This call is chiefly heard during the breeding-season. In feeding this species is less exclusively insectivorous than the little crake, taking wild rice and other seeds freely, as well as greenstuff. The nest is well concealed among rushes, wild rice, or marsh grass, and is made of that sort of vegetation. The eggs number about half a dozen, and have faint but thick dark frecklings on a greenish-drab ground.