Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to 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.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


Behaviour This species is entirely sedentary although immatures may disperse widely after the breeding season and local movements may occur during the non-breeding season when habitat is drastically reduced (e.g. through burning or drying-out) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In equatorial regions the breeding season is indeterminate, but elsewhere (e.g. in southern Africa) the species breeds during the rains (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It nests in solitary pairs and is permanently territorial throughout the year (del Hoyo et al. 1996), with pairs found at intervals of c.50-100 m in continuous habitats (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Habitat The species inhabits a wide range of marshland vegetation types, requiring dense vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998) where the overall canopy cover is more than 65 % (Taylor and van Perlo 1998) and areas of mud, firm ground or short vegetation for foraging in (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It also shows a preference for moist to shallowly flooded ground although it will occupy deeply flooded wetlands including papyrus swamps as long as there is enough dense, matted, emergent vegetation or floating grass available to provide a stable substrate (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Suitable habitats include seasonally wet hygrophilous grassland and sedge meadows with swards c.55 cm tall to permanently flooded reedbeds up to 3 m tall (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in isolated wetland patches or in swamps and marshes fringing streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and drainage lines (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). For nesting the species shows a preference for damp or shallowly flooded grass at the edge of marshy areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In forested regions of West Africa the species may also occur in dry grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and in South Africa it may occur in dry grass-dominated areas during the non-breeding season whilst foraging in hayfields of Eragrostis spp. and in lucerne fields adjacent to marshes during the breeding season (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). The species readily colonises artificial wetlands such as seepage areas below dam walls and shallowly flooded vegetation at dam intakes or along feeder streams, and will inhabit wetland patches surrounded by cultivated fields or close to human habitation as long as the habitat is not greatly disturbed or trampled (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of invertebrates such as earthworms, small gastropods, spiders, adult and larval insects (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. termites, small ants, Diptera, aquatic and terrestrial Hemiptera, and Coleoptera) and crustaceans (e.g. amphipods) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Grass seeds may also form part of diet during the non-breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a cup of vegetation placed well hidden in a clump of damp or shallowly flooded grass or herbaceous vegetation 8-30 cm above the ground or the surface of water at the edge of marshy areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information The species readily colonises artificial wetlands such as seepage areas below dam walls and shallowly flooded vegetation at dam intakes and along feeder streams (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It is also a successful colonist of small wetland patches, even those less than 0.5 ha in extent (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).


The species may be threatened by the destruction of wetland habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Sarothrura rufa. Downloaded from on 04/10/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/10/2022.