The Corn Crake is 27-30 cm (10.6-11.8 in) long with a wingspan of 42-53 cm (16.5-20.9 in). Males weigh 165 g and females average 145 g. The adult male has the crown of its head and all of its upperparts brown-black in colour, streaked with buff or grey. The wing coverts are chestnut with white bars. The face, neck and breast are blue-grey. From the base of the bill to behind the eye, there s a pale brown streak. The belly is white, the flanks and undertail are barred with chestnut and white. The strong bill is flesh-coloured, the iris is pale brown, and the legs and feet are pale grey. The female has warmer-toned upperparts and a narrower duller eye streak. Outside the breeding season, the upperparts of both sexes become darker and the underparts less grey.

Habitat and Distribution

The Corn Crake breeds from Britain and Ireland east through Europe to central Siberia. It winters mainly in Africa, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and central Tanzania south to eastern South Africa. It is seen in winter in North Africa and to the west and north of its core area in southeast Africa. Its habitat is river meadows with tall grass, moist grassland used for the production of hay, farmland with limited fertiliser use, treeless grasslands in mountains or taiga and also coasts.


The Corn Crake mainly feeds on invertebrates, such as earthworms, snails, spiders, snugs beetles, dragonflies, grasshoppers etc. They also eat grass seed and cereal grain, small frogs and mammals.


The nest is 12-15 cm (5-6 in) in diameter and 3-4 cm (1-1.5 in) deep. The clutch is 6-14, usually 8-12 eggs; these are oval, slightly glossy, creamy or tinted with green, blue or grey, and blotched red-brown. The eggs are laid at daily intervals. They hatch after 19-20 days. The chicks are fed by the female for three or four days, but can find their own food thereafter.

Calls and Songs

The male's call is a loud repetitive krek krek, delivered from a low perch.