The White-winged Flufftail is a very rare and tiny African bird which breeds north of the equator in Ethiopia and then migrates south to Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
This species is part of the Flufftails genus Sarothrura, which diverged from all other species of birds 25.1 million years ago during the Neogene period. Mysteriously, the only known breeding records are from highland marshes of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, this species is under threat due to grazing of livestock and grass cutting on the breeding grounds as well as drainage of marshes for cultivation and forestry. Much of the wetland habitat for this species has already been converted into agriculture, settlement and grazing land.
There is a site support group at the only known remaining breeding ground in Berga, Ethiopia, but remains unknown if the species is still breeding elsewhere. Grazing on a small part of the Berga wetland is restricted during the breeding season. Some South African sites have some legal protection and at least four sites are protected by the landowners. A captive breeding programme was proposed in South Africa, as this may be help protect this species until its natural breeding grounds receive better protection. There are also ongoing projects to raise awareness for this species including local communities and schools creating billboard posters.
- Order: Gruiformes
- Family: Rallidae
- Population: 700
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 14-16cm
- Weight: 31.8g
This species is known from Ethiopia with three known sites in the central highlands. It is also known from Zimbabwe and in South Africa, as they are found in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
Habitat and Ecology
This species breed in high-altitude seasonal marshes with dense, rapidly growing vegetation dominated by sedges, grasslands and forbs. This species forages in mud at the edges of reed beds, shallow water and floating mats of aquatic vegetation. It feeds on seeds and vegetation, as well as insects, spiders, earthworms, small frogs and small fish.