White-browed Crake Poliolimnas cinereus 白眉田雞

Category I. Accidental.


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Sep. 2014, Allen Chan.

15-20 cm. Similar in size to Ruddy-breasted Crake but appears somewhat slimmer and longer-legged, and, with its long toes, it has a slightly jacana-like quality. Mainly pale-grey underparts, buff in tone towards the rear, and relatively pale, straw-toned streaked upperparts. Bill and legs yellowish; most striking feature is the facial pattern: dark grey across the crown and blackish around the eyes, with a prominent white supercilium and a longer white line from the bill base, under the eye, to the ear-coverts.


None have been noted in HK, but it is a vocal species on its breeding grounds, especially if there are other pairs at the site. Non-territorial calls include a loud nasal repeated ‘hyoo.’


Frequents well-vegetated wetland areas, preferring open areas with floating vegetation.


1991:  one at Mai Po NR during 20-28 April (Kennerley 1992).

2014:  one at Long Valley from 27 September to 4 October.

The nature of these records, both apparently adults during the main migration seasons, suggest that although this species is not normally considered migratory across much of its range, some seasonal movement does occur.


Both records involved birds that fed in the open for extended periods, walking around on or among aquatic vegetation, which is typical of the behaviour of this species elsewhere in its range.


Monotypic. From continental south-east Asia and the Philippines through the Greater and Lesser Sundas to New Guinea and north Australia. Also Micronesia and Melanesia (south to Vanuatu and New Caledonia) to west central Polynesia (Taylor 2021). Records from the Chinese mainland appear to be few. It has been recorded in west Yunnan and the extreme south of Guangxi close to the Vietnam border (e-Bird), in addition to those from HK, Hainan and Taiwan (Liu and Chen 2020).


IUCN: Least Concern. Population trend: unknown.

Kennerley, P. R. (1992). White-browed Crake at Mai Po: the first record for Hong Kong and China. Hong Kong Bird Report 1991: 108-109.

Liu, Y. and Y. H. Chen (eds) (2020). The CNG Field Guide to the Birds of China (in Chinese). Hunan Science and Technology Publication House, Changsha.

Taylor, B. (2021). White-browed Crake (Poliolimnas cinereus), version 1.1. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.whbcra1.01.1

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