Corncrake Crex crex

Linnaeus, 1758

Key Facts

Please click for an explanation or hover over for the source
Scientific Classification Gruiformes > Rallidae
Field Codes CE , CORNC , 4210
Status in UK (A)  Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
Number in Britain 1100 Males (Summer)
Conservation Status
in Europe Least Concern
Globally Least Concern
Measurements Length: 28 cm    |  Wingspan: 50 cm    |  Weight: Male 170 g   Female 140 g   
Identification Tips View pictures from the Crossley ID Guide , or listen to sound-clips from Xeno-Canto
World Distribution BREEDS: Europe, n&c Asia, WINTERS: s Europe to s Africa
Found in Grassland, riparian thickets
Diet Mostly small invertebrates, also some seeds, from ground or off plants
Scientific name from Gr.: krex=a long-legged bird mentioned by Herodotus, Aristotle and other
Subspecies Monotypic
TitBit This brown, chicken-sized bird, prefers to run when threatened with danger - so it is best to harvest hay fields (where it nests) from the inside out, giving it somewhere to escape to.
Population Trends from the Wetland Bird Survey
Distribution Maps from the Atlas Mapstore
British Population Size
   Summer: 1100 Males in 2013–17
First Record Recorded in Medieval times [Fossil evidence from early Holocene, up to 10,000 yr ago]
Current Conservation Status RED because Recent Breeding Population Decline (1981-2010), Recent Winter Population Decline (1981-2010), Recent Breeding Range Decline (1981-2010), Recent Winter Range Decline (1981-2010)
Past Assessments 2009-2014 RED 2002-2007 RED 1996-2001 RED
Historical Trends
1800-49 1850-99 1900-39 1940-69 1969-95 1996-2020
Listed on the Annexes of WCA(I), WBD(I), Bern(III), Bonn(II), NERC (41)
European Population Size 300 to 500 thousand pairs
European Distribution Map European Breeding Bird Atlas
Download population assessment from Birds in Europe

Migration & Movements

First Arrivals by 11 April
Spring Migration typically mid April to mid May
Autumn Migration typically late July to early September
View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report

Breeding & Survival

-- Productivity and Nesting Success
View latest trends from the Nest Record Scheme
Number of Broods 1/2
Egg Size 37 x 26 mm    Weight = 13.2 g (of which 7 % is shell)
Clutch Size 8 - 12 eggs | 9.70 ± . (6 - 14) N = .
Incubation Period 16 - 19 days | 18.60 ± . (. - .) N = . | by Female
Fledging Period 34 - 38 days | 11.60 ± . (. - .) N = . | as Precocial, downy
-- Survival and Longevity
Typical Lifespan 2 years with breeding typically at 1 year
Adult Survival 0.286 (Male:0.298 ; Female:0.259 )  
View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Ring Size D or E*
Wing Length
  Adults Insufficient Data
  Juveniles Insufficient Data
  Males Insufficient Data
  Females Insufficient Data
Feather measurements and photos on featherbase
Body Weight
  Adults Insufficient Data
  Juveniles Insufficient Data
  Males Insufficient Data
  Females Insufficient Data

Other names

Also known as Corn Crake
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Gaelic: Traon Welsh: Rhegen yr Yd Catalan: guatlla maresa eurasiàtica
Czech: chrástal polní Danish: Engsnarre Dutch: Kwartelkoning
Estonian: rukkirääk Finnish: ruisrääkkä French: Râle des genêts
German: Wachtelkönig Hungarian: haris Icelandic: Engirella
Irish: Traonach Italian: Re di quaglie Latvian: grieze
Lithuanian: paprastoji griežle Norwegian: Åkerrikse Polish: derkacz (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: codornizão Spanish: Guión de codornices Swedish: kornknarr
Local British Names: Hay Crake, Land Rail

More information

Books and Monographs

  • Green, R. 1999 Corncrakes : naturally Scottish SNH - Scottish Natural Heritage, Battleby [598.554 GRE]
  • Taylor, B. & van Perlo, B. 1998 Rails Pica Press, Sussex [598.554 TAY]

Links from

See also

This page should be cited as: Robinson, R.A. (2005) BirdFacts: profiles of birds occurring in Britain & Ireland. BTO, Thetford (, accessed on )