AvianDiversity » A Connoisseur's Eye » Birds » Rails, Crakes and Coots » White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus - (Pennant) 1769)

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus - (Pennant) 1769)


White-breasted Waterhen has dark slate-brown upperparts. Face and underparts are white. Flanks, vent and undertail feathers are rufous-chestnut. Bill is yellowish-green. In breeding plumage, we can see the red base on the upper mandible. Eyes are deep red. Legs and large feet are yellowish. Both sexes are similar. White-breasted Waterhen is very vocal in breeding season, and at dawn and dusk. It may also be vocal at night. It gives some grunts, soft hisses and other strange sounds, followed by a repeated raucous call “kwak-kwak-kwaak”. It also utters a soft, hollow “hoop”, repeated monotonously. Alarm call is a high-pitched “hik”. White-breasted Waterhen lives near freshwater marshes and in habitats with dense undergrowth. It is very common in mangroves, reedbeds, grasslands, ricefields, orchards, parks and gardens. It is also found near small streams and pools where there is dense vegetation.
White-breasted Waterhen may be seen in open area in the morning, when it feeds. It picks up while walking, with tail held upright, and flicking it. It forages on the ground, feeding on worms and snails. It also eats roots and shoots of aquatic plants, and probes in mud or shallow water with its bill.