|Scientific name:||Crex crex|
|Bird Family:||Crakes & Rails|
Summer visitor from April to September.
A shy, secretive bird of hay meadows. The distinctive kerrx-kerrx call of the male often being the only indication of their presence. Adults show a brown, streaked crown with blue-grey cheeks and chestnut eye-stripe. Breast buffish grey with chestnut smudges on breast sides. Flanks show chestnut, white and thick black barring, fading on undertail. Wings bright chestnut, striking in flight. Short bill and yellow-brown legs. Prefers to run through thick cover, dropping quickly back into cover when flushed. Flight is weak and floppy. Large bright chestnut patches on wings and dangling legs are distinctive in flight
Males give a very loud, distinctive kerrx-kerrx call during the breeding season, which is repeated during the day in fits and starts, reaches a peak about dusk and continuing through the night till dawn. Its onomatopoeic Latin name seems to be derived from this sound
Corncrakes eat about four-fifths animal food and one-fifth vegetable matter. The animal part consists mainly of insects, but slugs, snails and earthworms are also eaten. Plant material taken includes seeds of grasses and sedges, eaten in larger quantities in the autumn.
Breeding is from mid May to early August. Nests on the ground in tall vegetation. Most nests are in hay fields. The greenish-grey mottled eggs hatch after seventeen days of incubation. For the first four days after hatching the chicks are fed by their mother. They then learn rapidly to feed themselves. Flight takes place in a little over thirty days. Females have two broods, the first hatching in mid June and the second one in late July to early August. There can be as little as two weeks between the chicks fledging from the first brood to laying a second clutch.
Major annual conservation measures to protect this endangered species
Formerly a common summer visitor, Corncrakes have suffered drastic population declines this century and are threatened with global extinction. Now only present in small numbers in North Donegal and Western parts of Mayo and Connaught. This decline is due in most part to intensive farming practices including early mowing to make silage and mechanised hay making practices which have destroyed nests and driven Corncrakes from old habitats. Now Corncrakes are confined to areas where difficult terrain precludes the use of machinery and where traditional late haymaking still takes place.
Winters in South East Africa.
Blog posts about this bird
Radical changes for agriculture and biodiversity proposed
- Increase nature protected areas on land and at sea by 30%. A third of these areas will be strictly protected – meaning no human activity can take place.
- Reduce pesticide use by 50%, both in terms of quantity and toxicity.
- Reduce fertilizer use by 20% on farmland
- Restore 10% of farmland with biodiversity elements such as hedgerows and flower strips to improve the sustainability of farming.
- At least 25% of agricultural land is under organic farming management, and the uptake of agro-ecological practices is significantly increased.
- Introduce binding EU nature restoration targets to restore crucial large-scale ecosystems such as peatlands, wetlands, forests and marine ecosystems, all of which are vital for mitigation and adaptation in the face of biodiversity loss and climate change