Crex crex

Family: Rails
Present: Mid April - September
Diet: mostly insects and seeds
Breeding: 1200 males


Seen on the Isle of Mull

Corncrakes are related to moorhens, coots and rails but differ from most members of the family in that they live on dry land. They are very secretive, spending most of their time hidden in tall vegetation, their presence only betrayed by their rasping call. In flight their bright chestnut wings and trailing legs are unmistakable. They are summer visitors and migrate to Africa for the winter.
The Corncrake or Landrail is a bird in the rail family. It breeds in Europe and Asia as far east as western China, and migrates to Africa for the northern hemisphere's winter.

Corncrakes breed on their first year. Once the males have reached their breeding grounds and selected a patch of suitable habitat, they start to sing to attract mates.
They don't hold a specific territory as such, though the singing males do space themselves out.
Once the male has attracted a female and mated, he will move some distance away and continue to sing to attract another mate. The female will incubate and rear the young by herself.
The nest is built on the ground in concealing vegetation, close to the singing post of the male. It is a shallow cup lined with dead leaves of nearby vegetation. Stems are often pulled over to form a loose canopy.
A clutch of 8-12 grey-green blotchy eggs are laid one a day from early May onwards. If the eggs are lost, she will lay a replacement clutch. Incubation begins with the last egg and lasts 16-19 days. The brood hatches synchronously.
When the young are only a couple of days old, they leave the nest and start to follow their mother. The female feeds the chicks until they are independent. Parent-young bond is initially strong, but often of short duration. Many broods become independent of their mother early, at 10-15 days, due to second nesting attempts.
After this the chicks live independently, though the young are fully fledged only at 34-38 days after hatching. The young from second clutches remain with their mother for a few days longer than first brood chicks.

For more information on this bird click here