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Masked Finfoot

Heliopais personatus


The Masked Finfoot belongs to a very small family of tropical birds called the Heliornithidae, consisting of just three species, each allocated to their own genus.

This endangered finfoot is perfectly adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. An adept swimmer the finfoot feeds on shrimp and small fish. There is also some anecdotal evidence that masked finfoot feed on insects taken from overhanging vegetation however it is unclear how important this is to their diet. The Masked Finfoot has a restricted, localised distribution encompassing parts of most countries in South-east Asia, also Bangladesh and small parts of India. Persecution, habitat destruction, degradation and general human disturbance have been the main factors causing the population decrease. Numbers are estimated at just 600 to 1,700 adults, which is a small number spread across such a large range, further highlighting the need to understand their migratory and seasonal movements.

  • Order: Gruiformes
  • Family: Heliornithidae
  • Population: 600-1,700
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 52-54.5cm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.26 (?)
ED Score: 23.12 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


Widespread, but patchily distributed across many countries in South east Asia, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Habitat and Ecology

This aquatic species is found in and around river systems and adjacent lowland woods, including mangroves. The Masked Finfoot prefer brackish or freshwater systems. They feed on shrimp, small fish and some reports of birds eating insects form overhanging vegetation. Migratory and seasonal movements seem to occur at some proportion of the population, but this topic needs further research.

Find out more

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Urban development Crops Aquaculture Shipping Hunting Logging Work Dams Industry Agriculture

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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