Working for birds in Africa

White-winged Flufftail's call recorded for the first time

Date posted: 
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

With a population of 250, this secretive bird has always been hard to study.

The White-winged Flufftail is one of Africa's rarest birds © Sergey Dereliev

In December last year, the call of one of the world’s rarest birds was identified and recorded for the first time by our Partner BirdLife South Africa. With fewer than 250 mature individuals remaining in the wild, the White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi is Critically Endangered, and at severe risk of extinction. Restricted to high-altitude wetland habitats in South Africa and Ethiopia, the flufftail’s secretive nature makes it hard to monitor the species’ behaviour, which in turn makes it harder to know how best to protect it.

Before the call was discovered, surveying an area for the bird meant trying to flush it out, either on foot or by using a rope. This method, however, was intensive, slow, and yielded few sightings. Then in 2016, BirdLife South Africa developed an innovative method to survey the species called the BirdLife South Africa Rallid Survey Method. Read the rest of this fascinating story here.

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