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White-breasted Waterhen - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo by Alok Tewari
Basai Wetland, Gurugram, Haryana, India, 31 March 2015
Amaurornis phoenicurus


28–33 cm (11-13 in)
Dark grey upperparts and flanks, white face, neck and breast, cinnamon belly and undertail. The body is flattened laterally to allow easier passage through the reeds or undergrowth. They have long toes, a short tail and a yellow bill and legs. Sexes are similar, but immature birds are much duller versions of the adults. The downy chicks are black.[4]


Nominate subspecies, fledgling with parent
Photo by Alok Tewari
Dist. Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, Aug 2013

Southern Asia, the Philippines, the Malay Archipelago and many smaller islands including the Maldives3, Nicobar Islands, Sulawesi, Moluccas, and the Lesser Sunda Islands.


Plain Bush-hen (A. olivacea), Pale-vented Bush-hen (A. moluccana), and Talaud Bush-hen (A. magnirostris) were formerly considered conspecific within White-breasted Waterhen.


Clements recognizes these subspecies[1]:





They nest in a dry location on the ground in marsh vegetation, laying 6-7 eggs.[4]


They probe in mud or shallow water; or they forage on the ground or in low bushes and small trees. The diet includes insects, small fish and seeds. [4]


Call recorded at the beginning of spring, many individuals were calling.

Recording by Alok Tewari
Bharatpur Keoladeo National Park, India, February-2016
Call by one individual sitting in a bush on the edge of a water-body, can be heard in the recording below :

Recording by Alok Tewari
Delhi, India, August-2012


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Thread in Id forum of Birdforum
  4. Wikipedia

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