What does it look like? This large crake can be distinguished from the smaller Baillon’s Crake by its all-white undertail and two-tone bill, which is olive-green with a red base to the upper mandible. Both crakes are, however, mottled brown and black above, spotted with white, and have black and white barring on the belly. (The Spotless Crake is chiefly grey-brown with bright orange legs and feet. The White-browed Crake has no black barring on the underparts and has a conspicuous white eyebrow).
Where does it live? Found in both eastern and western Australia, the Australian Spotted Crake is somewhat of a nomad. Although it is normally found in coastal areas, it suddenly appears in inland areas, only to disappear as mysteriously and suddenly as it appeared.
What are its habitats and habits? Crakes inhabit thickly vegetated swamps and lagoons, usually around inland rivers and estuaries. As with most crakes, this is a relatively shy bird, darting backwards and forwards in search of food, insects, molluscs and aquatic plants, or skulking in the shadows. Although common, these secretive habits make it difficult to observe, but patience is often rewarded with good glimpses of birds as they appear to forage amongst the mud or shallow water, apparently oblivious to the presence of a quiet observer.
Scientific name: Porzana fluminea
Size: 18 to 21 cm