The banded crake, although barred with black-and-white below like the long-billed rails, has a shorter bill and toes than these birds, though the beak has not the almost fowl-like form found in some of the short-billed crakes and the moorhens; it is rather over an inch long, the bird being about as large as a snipe.
The general colour above is chestnut in front, and greenish-brown on the back; but only in adult males is the chestnut developed all over the head and neck; young birds are brown even here, and hens, except perhaps old ones, have the crown and back of the neck brown. The legs are grey, and the bill brown and green.
The banded crake is seldom found outside Ceylon; but it is believed to have been found breeding about Karwar and Khandalla, and specimens have been got in many other localities in the Empire, from Oudh to Singapore, so that it might be expected to occur anywhere. Even in Ceylon it is only to be found from October to February, and does not breed in the island so far as is known. While there it inhabits the hills, and though often found in the usual haunts of rails, in cover by streams and paddy fields, it is not confined to wet ground. The setting in of the north wind is the signal for its arrival in Ceylon, where it first appears on the west coast. The incoming birds behave as if they had made a long journey, being very tired and taking refuge in all sorts of queer places. Layard says that he found one in the well of his carriage, one in his gig-apron, and another in a shoe under his bed ! The bird, in fact, seems to have quite a mania for coming indoors.
When flushed this bird quite commonly takes to a tree, and the nests attributed to it, and found in the mainland localities above mentioned during the monsoon, were placed above ground on bamboos, tangled herbage, bushes, or stumps. The eggs were creamy-white and unspotted, thus being abnormal for the family, since spotted eggs are general among rails.