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Spotless Crake

Marouette fuligineuse - Photo Jean Kape

Marouette fuligineuse – Photo Jean Kape

Marouette fuligineuse - Photo Caroline Blanvillain

Marouette fuligineuse – Photo Caroline Blanvillain

6 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. It is a small lack bird, (brown to black) to the legs and red eyes. The underside of the tail is dotted with small inconspicuous white spots. Rather discreet, this species is particularly difficult to see if it is not active.

Order: Gruiformes

Family: Rallidae

Category: Large range Birds


Presents in the Austral (Rimatara), the Tuamotu (Rangiroa in particular), the Marquesas and Tahiti (Bay Port Phaeton, Peninsula). It is now extinct in the Gambier. The species is also present in the Philippines, Australia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Cook and to Pitcairn.


In the high islands, it frequents marshy areas, taro and wet forests up to 1500 meters above sea level but also ferns fields. In the atolls, it is present at the edge of small ponds in the forests of puatea (Pisonia grandis) or coconut plantations. It often goes unnoticed.

Its calls may vary, being sound and surprising. The most common sounds are repeated at dusk and dawn. We distinguish “ouit-ouit-ouit …” hoo-hoo-hoo … “strong audible from far away between the” tip “and” toe “or” peak “and “peuk” issued by jerks and audible only closely.

To listen the Spotless Crake:

Plant debris and small invertebrates captured on the ground.

The nest is a cup made of twigs and brackens. It is placed in a depression sheltered by a canopy (clump of ferns, for example). The spawn consists of three pale buff eggs 30 x 23-24 mm small brown speckled points at the large end. The chicks seem to follow the adult after a few days. They breed throughout the year.

Oisillon de Marouette fuligineuse©Caroline Blanvillain

Oisillon de Marouette fuligineuse©Caroline Blanvillain

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.



Scientific Name: Zapornia tabuensis (Gmelin, 1789)

Polynesian Names:
Meho (Tahiti), moho (Tuamotu), kororo-iva (Mangareva), koao (Marquises), moo (Rurutu), moho (Tubuai, Rimatara), koto koto (Rapa)

  • Society (peninsula of Tahiti)
  • Austral
  • Tuamotu
  • Marquesas
  • Philippines
  • Australia
  • Fiji
  • Tonga
  • Samoa
  • Cook
  • Pitcairn


The species is widely distributed in the Pacific, it is not threatened. However, the populations present in French Polynesia are victims of a high predation by rats, cats and dogs. In addition, the population of Tahiti has to face deterioration or disappearance of wetlands located on the seafront, including Bay Port Phaeton.

The species is listed in category A of the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia.
The species is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List but “Vulnerable” VU) on the UICN Red List 2015 France – Polynesia.