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Please note: On Wednesday April 24 at Franklin Park Zoo and Thursday, April 25 at Stone Zoo, volunteers, zoo employees and local emergency responders will take part in routine animal escape exercises. While the exercise is occurring, guests have the opportunity to participate in the evacuation portion, and may be asked to move to certain areas within the Zoo for a brief period of time (not to exceed 10 minutes). These exercises are an important part of our preparedness training, and we appreciate your participation and understanding. If you have any questions about what to expect, please don't hesitate to contact us at 617-989-2000 or info@zoonewengland.org.

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Black Crake

Zapornia flavirostra

black crake

About the Black Crake

conservation status: least concern

Geographic Range:

range map

Class: Aves  
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Zapornia
Species: flavirostra

The Black Crake is a completely black waterbird that is commonly found in Sub-Saharan Africa. It prefers marsh habitats, and can be seen occasionally feeding on parasites on the backs of hippos or other large animals. Its very distinct appearance makes it easy to tell apart from other bird species. 

Black Crake Facts

Appearance:
A completely black waterbird with a short tail and long toes, the crake has a relatively short yellow beak, reddish eyes, and bright orange legs and feet. There are no absolute differences in appearance between the sexes, but most males and up to 10% of females have a slightly hooked upper mandible. 

Size:
Weight: 2.5 - 4 ounces

Diet:
Invertebrates, insects, fish, frogs, seeds of aqautic plants, and bird eggs. Crakes can often be seen consuming parasites off of large animals such as hippos. 

Reproduction:
The black crake is incredibly territorial of its nest. Often it will attack other crakes or even larger birds to defend its territory. The nest usually consists of reeds and other aquatic plants. Up to six eggs may be produced, with the average being three eggs. They're incubated over a period of 13-19 days. 

Behavior:
This species is diurnal, and often most active just after rainfall. Its movements are closely related to seasonal rainfall and formation of temporary water sources. Breeding occurs throughout the year when conditions are suitable, with seasonal peaks occuring just after periods of rain. The crake nests territorially, and usually occurs just in pairs. However, groups up to 10 individuals will occasionally form. 

Habitat/range:

Freshwater marshes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Median Life Expectancy:
5.7 years