Thursday, October 7, 2010

Puweto, the Spotless Crake

This diminutive bird makes its home in our raupo swamps, and is relatively widespread and not uncommon. However, it is probaby one of our least known species. Shy and secretive, he is more often heard than seen - and then you have to know what to listen for. At dawn and dusk he calls - a sharp "pit-pit" call, a solitary or repeated "book" or a long purring rattle that sounds not unlike an alarm clock. They are fast runners, and rarely fly, although they are capable of travelling quite long distances to find new homes and reportedly have a good homing instinct. Like most rails, they feed on a mixture of seeds and plant matter, with the added taste of molluscs and other invertebrates. They build several nests, some as "dummy" or "play" nests, and a real one in which the eggs are laid. Young hatch precocious and grow fast. Little is known about this secetive bird, and its equally secretive cousin - the Marsh Crake.

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