Order: Gruiformes

Family: Rallidae

Scientific name: Gallicrex cinerea, Gmelin, 1789

IUCN Red list status- Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Watercock is a monotypic species bird and it is the only bird of Gallicrex


Watercocks are 43 cms long and weigh 476–650 g. They have mainly black-grey plumage with red legs, bill, extended frontal shield and horn. Young males are buff in colour, darkening as they mature. Their bill is yellow and their legs are green. Female birds are smaller with 36 cm length and 298–434 Gms weight. They are dark brown above and paler below. The plumage is streaked and barred with darker markings. The bill is yellow and the legs are green. The downy chicks are black similar to rails.


The Watercock species feed on small fish, invertebrates, aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, worms and molluscs. They probe with their bill in mud or shallow water for food. They also forage on the ground feeding vegetable matters like seeds, grass, shoots and berries. The forage time is mainly in dawn and dusk and also in cloudy overcast weather and it is done singly or in pairs.


The Watercock species inhabit reed beds, wetlands, marshes, swamps, flooded pasture, flooded meadows, irrigated lands and flooded agricultural fields. In India it is distributed throughout the union. It is also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and also in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Reproductive Behaviour

The Watercock species in Indian subcontinent breeds during June to September. Individual resident populations breed with respect to local weather seasons, usually nesting during or just after the wet season. The nest is built on the ground as a raised platform of plant material, hidden among reeds or long-grass. The clutch may contain 3 to 6 eggs. The incubation period and parental duties are unknown.


The call is a loud “gulping” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla).
  • Ruddy Breasted Crake (Porzana fusca).
  • Blue Breasted Rail (Gallirallus striatus).

Migratory Behaviour

Non Migratory, Uncommon Resident