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Sarothruridae - Flufftails

Flufftail
Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa ©Dubi Shapiro Website

The Sarothruridae is a family of small to medium sized ground-living birds found in Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa. The family contains just 2 genera. Until recently the two genera were treated as separate families.

They are highly secretive and seldom observed. Two species, the Buff-spotted Flufftail and the White-spotted Flufftail, are inhabitants of dense forests, while the remaining species are found in deep grasslands and marshes. One species, the Streaky-breasted Flufftail, is known to be migratory. It is uncertain whether other species are as well; the White-winged Flufftail may breed in Ethiopia and winter in South Africa but this is not known for certain.

The breeding behaviour of the flufftails has not been observed for many species, although some certainly breed in the wet season. All species are highly vocal during the breeding season, with repertoires including duets. In the Madagascar Flufftail the courtship behaviour consists of duetting, nest building (which is undertaken by the male), nest visits by the female, and copulation. Flufftails build domed nests; the nest of the Madagascar Flufftail is positioned high above the ground in vines, and the nest of the White-winged Flufftail is placed in reeds over waterlogged ground. The eggs of all the species that have been studied are white, unlike most rails. The chicks are covered in black down at birth and have a slightly coloured bill; adult plumage is quickly attained in most species. Both parents care for the chicks.

According to the IOC there are 12 species in two genera of sarothruridae which are:

Grey-throated Rail Canirallus oculeus
Madagascan Wood Rail Canirallus kioloides
Tsingy Wood Rail Canirallus beankaensis

White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra
Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans
Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa
Chestnut-headed Flufftail Sarothrura lugens
Streaky-breasted Flufftail Sarothrura boehmi
Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis
Madagascan Flufftail Sarothrura insularis
White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi
Slender-billed Flufftail Sarothrura watersi

Family Links

Flufftails Sarothruridae

Family Account

For eons a small set of rail-like birds in Africa, called flufftails (genus Sarothrura), were considered a part of the very large Rallidae family. This has long been a genus of 9 species (8 in Africa, 1 on Madagascar) of very small, secretive, and elusive rail-like birds.

Flufftails Sarothruridae

Family Account

Flufftails (genus Sarothrura) are small birds related to rails and finfoots. There are nine species, seven of which are distributed across sub-Saharan Africa, with the remaining two in Madagascar. The group's common name is derived from the short tail which has degraded fluffy feathers. All species except the white-winged flufftail display sexual dimorphism in their plumage but not their size.

Species Links

Grey-throated Rail Canirallus oculeus

BirdLife Species Account

Grey-throated Rail Canirallus oculeus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Gallinula oculea Hartlaub, 1855, Rio Butri, Ghana. Birds E from Cameroon sometimes treated as separate race, batesi, but considered to differ too little from other populations to merit subspecific status. Monotypic.

Grey-throated Rail Canirallus oculeus

Species Account

The grey-throated rail (Canirallus oculeus) is a species of bird in the family Sarothruridae.

Grey-throated Rail Canirallus oculeus

IUCN Species Status

Grey-throated Rail Canirallus oculeus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Madagascan Wood Rail Canirallus kioloides

Species Account

The Madagascan wood rail (Canirallus kioloides), also known as the kioloides rail, is a species of bird in the family Sarothruridae. It is endemic to forests, often in wet areas, in northern and eastern Madagascar. Until the description of the Tsingy wood rail, it was the only species of Canirallus in Madagascar.

Madagascan Wood Rail Canirallus kioloides

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Madagascan Wood Rail Canirallus kioloides

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Gallinula kioloides Pucheran, 1845, Madagascar. Has been considered to include M. beankaensis as a subspecies (see below). Two subspecies currently recognized.

Madagascan Wood Rail Canirallus kioloides

IUCN Species Status

Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa

BirdLife Species Account

Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus rufus Vieillot, 1819, Cape Province, South Africa. Race ansorgei proposed for birds of Angola, but differences from nominate considered trivial. Three subspecies recognized.

Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa

Species Account

The red-chested flufftail (Sarothrura rufa) is a species of bird in the family Sarothruridae. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa

IUCN Species Status

Tsingy Wood Rail Canirallus beankaensis

Species Account

The Tsingy wood rail (Canirallus beankaensis) is a species of bird in the family Sarothruridae that only was scientifically described in 2011.

Tsingy Wood Rail Canirallus beankaensis

BirdLife Species Account

Tsingy Wood Rail Canirallus beankaensis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Mentocrex beankaensis S. M. Goodman, Raherilalao and Block, 2011, ForĂȘt de Beanka, Maintirano, north-western Madagascar.

Tsingy Wood Rail Canirallus beankaensis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Tsingy Wood Rail Canirallus beankaensis

IUCN Species Status

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 12