Little Crake Zapornia parva


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable hence it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 55,000-82,900 calling or lekking males, which equates to 110,000-166,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 60% of the global range so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 183,000-277,000 mature individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 100,000-499,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
In Europe the population size is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015). With no evidence of declines elsewhere in the range the overall population is estimated to be stable.


Behaviour Most populations of this species are fully migratory and migrate to wintering grounds from late-August to November, returning north from February-May, and arriving again on breeding grounds between March and April (del Hoyo et al. 1996) with breeding occurring between May and August (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds in separate territories in solitary pairs or family groups (Urban et al. 1986, Snow and Perrins 1998), although in favourable habitat nests may be placed as close as 30-35 m apart (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Outside of the breeding season the species is usually seen singly (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) although it may occur in groups on migration and in the Autumn it sometimes associates with Spotted Crake Porzana porzana (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Habitat Breeding The species breeds in the lowlands (up to 2,000 m) in temperate and steppe zones (del Hoyo et al. 1996), extending into boreal regions if conditions are favourable (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It inhabits natural or semi-natural eutrophic freshwater wetlands with still or slow-flowing water (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), and requires tall stands of emergent vegetation (e.g. Scirpus, Typha, Carex, Sparganium and Phragmites) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) in or near fairly deep water in which to breed, preferably with a mixture of dead and living stems and a layer of broken stems at ground or water level (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Suitable habitats include the margins of lakes and rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), small pools and oxbows in regularly inundated floodplains (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), marshes (Taylor and van Perlo 1998), flooded woodland (del Hoyo et al. 1996) such as alder Alnus coppices (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and flooded rice-fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding During the non-breeding season this species inhabits flooded rice-fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), seasonally flooded grasslands (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), swamps and small pools overgrown with reeds, bulrushes, sedges and rank grass (Urban et al. 1986), and sewage ponds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species may occur in more atypical habitats on migration (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Diet The diet of this species consists mostly of insects (especially waterbeetles, Hemiptera, Neuroptera, and adult and larval Diptera), as well as the seeds and shoots of aquatic plants (Carex, Sparganium, Polygonum and Nymphaea), worms, gastropods, spiders and water mites (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow cup of plant matter (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) placed in thick vegetation on or near water (Urban et al. 1986), or occasionally raised on a tussock or platform of dead material, preferably in sites only accessible by swimming (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Management information The species prefers to breed in tall reedbeds that are not regularly cut or burnt (i.e. with mixtures of dead or living stems) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).


In its breeding range the species is threatened by wetland degradation and destruction such as lake drainage for irrigation and hydroelectric power production (Balian et al. 2002), and intensive reed harvesting (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species in its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's range within Europe only: Key sites should be identified and protected and monitoring of populations introduced. Management techniques should include the maintenance of tall reedbeds (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and habitat diversity (Stermin et al. 2011). Research into the species's population dynamics and habitat requirements would inform future conservation measures.


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Zapornia parva. Downloaded from on 27/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/06/2022.