Gallinula elegans A. Smith, 1839, Durban, South Africa. Two subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Rвle ponctuй; German: Tropfenralle; Spanish: Polluela Elegante.
6–6.7 in (15–17 cm); 1.4–2 oz (39–61 g). Male has orangechestnut foreparts and buff-spotted upperparts; female golden brown with buff-spotted upperparts and barred underparts. Juvenile gray-brown.
S. e. reichenovi: Guinea east to Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) and Uganda, south to north Angola; S. e. elegans: southern Sudan and Ethiopia south to South Africa.
Forest, thickets, and abandoned cultivated areas.
Territorial when breeding. Diurnal, but breeding males sing mostly at night, giving a loud, repeated, hollow hoot “oooooo,” sometimes for 12 hours or more. Some populations sedentary, others have seasonal movements.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Takes terrestrial invertebrates.
Monogamous. Breeds during rains. Lays three to five white eggs in domed nest of dead leaves or grass on ground. Incubation 15–16 days; young independent at 19–21 days.
Not threatened. Widespread, locally common. Probably holds its own because it colonizes degraded forest habitats and exotic vegetation.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Its hooting vocalization has given rise to many local legends.
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