In their need to find flying insects, Black Crakes stand on the backs of hippopotami and warthogs waiting to catch a tasty treat.
19-23 cm long with a short tail and long toes. It has mainly black plumage. The eye is red, the bill is yellow, and the legs and feet are red, duller when not breeding. The male is slightly larger than the female. Most males, and 10% of females have a hooked upper mandible. Immature birds have brown upper-parts and a dark grey head and underparts. Downy chicks are black.
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The main call of the Black Crake is a duet, starting with a throaty chattering krrrok-kraaaa. The response is a dove-like cooing coo-crr-COO.
Though it needs cover, it is often seen out in the open. It is extremely aggressive when breeding. It will forage on the ground or climb reeds to find prey including flying insects. It will perch on hippopotamuses and warthogs and remove parasites.
The nest is a deep neat bowl made from wetland plants and built in marsh vegetation, or on the ground in a dry location. It may also be constructed up to 3 meters high in a bush. Eggs are cream or white with brown spots. Chicks leave the nest in 1-3 days, can fly by 5-6 weeks, and are independent at 6-12 weeks.