Find out all about Crex Crex, The King of Quails

Crex Crex is the name of a bird considered the king of the quails, this specimen belongs to the family Rallidae which is native to the places of Eurasia and Africa, in the following article we will know more details of the characteristics and the environment of this particular species.

Crex Crex

Crex Crex is the name used to refer to the bird considered as the king of the quails, in general this is a species of gruiform bird, which belongs to the family Rallidae, and is usually native to the countries of Eurasia and Africa.

This particular bird has plumage that can be easily distinguished from other specimens, since its colors are very well defined, its habits are discreet and it usually lives hidden in humid grasslands. It breeds in Eurasia and migrates to southeastern Africa, as it moves there to spend the winter, it is common to be in flocks with the quail, which is why it owes its common name in Spanish.

The Crex Crex is a bird that belongs to the rail family. This bird usually breeds in different areas of Europe and Asia,ros places where it often moves as it is the areas of eastern and western China.

After completing its processes migrates to Africa for the winter of the northern hemisphere, this is done very often as part of its nature, the Crex Crex, a medium sized bird, has tones in his body which are well defined.

The bill of this strong species is usually flesh-colored, the iris is light brown, and its legs are pale gray. When these birds are in the full development stage and are still young they are not very similar to adults.

As for the call of the male of this species is a loud sound and uses a constant tone from there of this means of communication lies its name as it clearly sounds a Crex Crex, sound taken as part of its scientific name.

The Crex Crex is usually a bird of large size to a larger than its closest relative, called African crake, which is characterized by sharing its wintering range; this species of bird has a plumage with shades that are darker and its face is lighter by the shades it has.

Natural environment

In general this species of bird usually lives in the pasture, where the hay fields are, but it also moves to similar environments in the wintering grounds. (see article: Montezuma Quail).

The Crex Crex is a discreet bird, it does not make many sounds, only when it wants to communicate as part of its natural development, this bird builds a nest using different products of nature, among which are the blades of grass, then opens a hole in the ground and the female lays at least 6 to 14 eggs which are cream colored and have certain spots on the carapace.

The Crex Crex is an omnivorous bird, it usually feeds on invertebrates, sometimes it can consume the following species:

  • Small frogs
  • Mammals of a small size
  • Plant material
  • Grass and cereal seeds

Threats to the Species

The natural threats that are present in the environment of this Crex Crex bird, usually include wild mammals introduced to its habitat, also are considered a great threat to its population the large birds, and various parasites and diseases that are located in the places that these birds frequent.

Although the Crex Crex population has declined significantly in places such as Western Europe, this bird is not considered endangered or of concern on the IUCN Red List, thanks to its easy and large breeding range in Russia and Kazakhstan.

The numbers of this bird in western China have greatly facilitated conservation measures and the increase of the population, since it is common that in some countries the population was smaller due to the different threats in their environment.

As a consequence of its great popularity this bird called Crex Crex, has been known in different media of the society, reaching participation in important literary works, since its characteristics have made it a species out of the common.

Taxonomy

The taxonomy of Crex Crex birds is often a bit complicated, it has some similarity with its closest relative called African crake, after a series of investigations the species has been given its own genus, Crecopsis, although because of this it is often referred to as Crex.

In general both species are brown birds, have a short bill, prefer to settle in grasslands rather than wetland habitats typical of rails. (see article: Birds of Spain).

There are other species which are considered as close relatives of the genus Crex and are the following:

  • Porzana crakes
  • Ash crake (Porzana albicollis)

Characteristics

The Crex Crex is a species of bird that has characteristics that give it a unique and special touch, its main physical details are the following:

  • It is of medium size, it measures 27 to 30 cm
  • Its wingspan measures 42 to 53 cm
  • Males weigh about 165 grams
  • Females have a weight of 145 grams
  • The adult male has very defined colors, it has the crown of his head and each of its upper parts of brown or in some cases black, it also has brown or gray stripes, each of these shades are well distributed throughout his body and the colors are defined uniformly.
  • In the case of the wings they have distinctive tones, since a brown color predominates and some of them reflect white tones
  • Certain parts of its body such as the face, neck and chest are blue or a gray tone
  • The Crex Crex has a kind of brown stripe that goes from the base of the beak to behind the eye, and also reaches other areas of its body such as the belly that are white, other areas are brown and white.
  • The beak of this bird is strong and has a flesh-colored tone
  • The iris is light brown in color, which is well defined
  • The legs of the Crex Crex are pale gray
  • Compared to the male, the female has certain upperparts that are warmer in tone, it also has a duller eye stripe
  • After the breeding season, the upper parts of the males and females become darker and the lower parts have a less gray tone, depending on the process of their natural development.
  • In the young stage this bird is similar to the adult in appearance, although it has a yellow color in the upper part
  • The gray of the underparts is replaced by light brown tones. Chicks of this species have a black color underneath, as do all members of these birds
  • Within the group of these birds there are no subspecies, each of the populations present a great individual variety in the tones of their coloration, with the passage of time these birds become paler and grayer as a normal part of their development.
  • Adult birds usually go through a process of complete molting, this occurs after the breeding season, which usually ends in late August or early September, before migrating to southeastern Africa as part of their usual habits.
  • This bird has a partial prebreeding molt, which occurs before returning from Africa, usually on the plumage of the head, body and tail.
  • The birds of this species in their young stage present a molt of the feathers in the zones of the head and certain areas of the body, this process lasts about 5 weeks after the hatching.

The Crex Crex is sympatric with the African Crake as they have in common the overwintering spaces, but this one can be differentiated in the usual way because it has a larger size, and also there are certain upper parts of its body that are lighter in color, the upper part can present a reddish golden tone and usually the lower parts are different.

As for the flight, this species has longer wings, which are less rounded, and shallower wing flaps, which are distinct from its African relative, each of these features show their most considerable differences.

The Crex Crex can sometimes exhibit features similar to a game bird, although its wing pattern is usually chestnut-colored and its dangling legs are different from other species.

Sounds

Usually the Crex Crex bird emits a series of sounds to communicate, it is frequent that this happens in the breeding places, the call of the male is a typical and constant noise, something like: krek krek which emits continuously and very loud, this call is repetitive and is done as part of their usual behaviors.

The call of this bird can be heard from considerable distances of up to 1.5 km, often communicating to establish breeding territory, and thus attract females and challenge intruder males that are close to their natural habitat.

Each of the vocalizations emitted by these birds make the males express themselves individually and can be recognized by their calls. It is common for them to make these sounds at the beginning of the season and the calls can last all night continuously.

In the case of the female Crex Crex, this can make a call that is similar to the one made by the male; since it has a sound that is usually very characteristic, this is expressed as a kind of bark, and is similar to the main call emitted to search for other birds.

The female of this species also has a high-pitched call tone, and a sound that allows it to be heard over long distances and with which it calls other birds that are close to its usual environment.

Distribution

In general, the Crex Cex usually inhabits hayfields that have a green field, this species breeds from very specific locations which include:

  • Great Britain
  • Ireland (eastward across Europe)
  • Central Siberia

Although this species has disappeared in certain areas, part of its population was found in habitats located in Eurasia in different areas of the latitudes, there are also a considerable number of Crex Crex in western China, and infrequently nest in northern Spain and Turkey. These are the areas where they are rarely found.

The Crex Crex usually winters in very specific areas which include the following places:

  • Africa
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Central Tanzania
  • Eastern South Africa

This bird usually winters in North Africa and west and north of its central area in Southeast Africa occasionally, as there are no accurate records of the population numbers of this species in certain areas of Africa and therefore their numbers are uncertain.

As for the numbers of these birds in places like South Africa, it is estimated a population of about 2,000 specimens which are found in the following areas of KwaZulu-Natal and in the former province of Transvaal, this according to various opinions.

Usually the Crex Crex bird migrates to Africa through 2 main routes, which comprise the following areas:

 

  • The western route through Morocco and Algeria

 

The most important migratory route through Egypt

They have also been recorded in much of the countries where their breeding and wintering areas are located, this includes many areas of West Africa.

The Crex Crex is a lowland bird, although it breeds up to 1,400 meters in altitude in the Alps, and around 2,700 meters in places like China and as high as 3,000 meters in parts of Russia.

Generally the habitats of the Crex Crex include river meadows, large areas with tall grasses and various plants, it is common for this species to be found in the wet and cold grasslands which are used for hay production, as it is common its presence in farmland, this bird settles in the spaces it considers large and suitable for its development.

Although it is also characterized by settling in treeless meadows in the mountains and on the coasts, these spaces are used by this bird on a regular basis.

In general these birds can be located in wetlands such as wetland edges, but they avoid these wetlands as part of their habitats, as they settle in open areas and avoid those that contain vegetation of more than 50 cm in height or that are too dense for them to walk.

These birds look for spaces that contain grasslands and that have the necessary resources for them to nest calmly during their nesting period. In general, these birds use local crops, among which the most important ones are:

  • Cereals
  • Peas
  • Canola
  • Clover
  • Potatoes

After completing their reproductive process, adult birds are characterized by moving to higher vegetation, generally these spaces include places with hay and meadows where they are located for the second breeding. (see article: Exotic birds).

In China, they look for suitable spaces to settle and form their nests, often the males make different sounds, where they sing hidden in grass or cereal crops, the reproduction of these birds generally in certain sites is not very successful, although their nests in field margins or in the nearby fallow are more likely to be successful than in other places.

When wintering in Africa, Crex Crex usually occupy dry grassland spaces and their savanna habitats, as they occur in vegetation from 30 to 200 cm, including seasonal areas.

In some cases they are found in reed beds. They are also frequently found in fallow fields and abandoned sites, tall grass and crop edges as the most common areas for establishment.

To establish in places like South Africa they require a height corresponding to at least 1.750 meters, for this reason each of these birds stay within a fairly small area, to achieve their usual development process.

It is common that these cases happen with the African crake, since this species prefers to be located in the habitats of wetter and shorter grasslands than its relative the Crex Crex bird, especially in the periods that comprise the migration.

The Crex Crex can inhabit wheat fields and around and other spaces that are wide, since it has an easy adaptation which allows it to be distributed in different areas on a regular basis.

This bird is characterized by having a great resistance because it can move during the corresponding periods to different places covering long distances, it also has a wide variety in its diet and can adapt to different areas in search of food as part of their daily style.

Behavior

The Crex Crex, is a bird species that is characterized by being very reserved, since it is difficult to observe its breeding sites because it hides in certain places, which have a lot of vegetation, although sometimes it looks for larger sites. (see article: Chinese Quail).

These birds have a quiet behavior, they almost always stay in the same area, until their breeding period begins and they move to specific places to make their nests, they also perform migration processes as part of their usual style.

In Africa, this bird is more hidden than its relative the African crake, because unlike its relative, it is rarely observed moving from one place to another or covering open air places.

This bird feeds on different products of nature, it is usually an active bird, which fully complies with its migration process according to the season in which it is.

The migration flights made by this bird have a more steady action and can walk and run as part of, and can their daily habits, as it moves quickly through the grass with his body held horizontally, in some cases depending on the area where this bird is usually swim.

The Crex Crex is considered a solitary bird, often found in the wintering grounds, where it occupies several areas, although this bird can move from these areas due to flooding, plant growth, or grass cutting, as each of these events are common.

The migration carried out by these birds depends on the period in which they are, in these stages usually form flocks that have about 40 birds, which are often associated with common quails, as it is normal for this to happen.

The migration of this bird species takes place during the night, and flocks that rest throughout the day, due to their natural organization can aggregate hundreds of birds in certain places. The ability to migrate is innate, this is part of their natural instinct as it is not learned from adult Crex Crex.

There is some evidence that shows that most of these birds have a high rate of adaptation, as the chicks raised from birds that were in captivity for a period of ten generations were able to migrate to Africa and return with a similar success as the wild offspring, this due to their natural instinct and their easy process of adaptation to different natural environments.

Reproduction

The breeding period of this bird is usually somewhat complex, the male moves to different areas in search of suitable territory to settle, and in the case of females of this species usually have a smaller range, when the Crex Crex, feels the presence of an intruder in their usual space usually challenge him by some sounds emitted, in order to defend their territory.

In general, it is frequent that after this the stranger leaves and leaves completely the near environment; if the intruder puts resistance and pretends to stay, several conflicts arise and the Crex Crex chooses to defend its territory, in a constant way, thus exerting force, until it manages to remove the intruder bird.

The male usually offers various foods to the female of this species as part of his breeding period, since during courtship it is typical for him to perform this act. (see article: Breeding of laying quail).

He also focuses on performing certain movements as part of the courtship to call the female and get her full attention, each of the techniques he employs are part of his tactics for the conquest, and with which he is victorious on many occasions.

Nest

In general, these birds build their nests with the products they find in their environment, these are located in the grasslands, or in many occasions they look for safer places that are near a tree or isolated bushes.

They may also opt for places with overgrown vegetation, as they are birds that seek safety as part of their natural instinct, and as a result of their isolated behavior. (see article: Quail).

When these birds notice that the grass is not high enough at the beginning of the season, the first nest they make is placed in marsh vegetation, with the second brood in hay. This is done as a means of defense and in a habitual way to guarantee that the process can be carried out.

The second nest of these birds can also be established in places that have a higher altitude than the first, for this reason they usually use places that are on top of a hill, as they are often the most sought after by these species and in which they achieve greater success.

The Crex Crex is a species of bird that establishes its nest in safe places, in many cases it builds it hidden in the grass, and usually elaborates it in a groove or hole in the ground, which has an adequate depth, it also uses dry grass and plants, for its comfort and places a variety of finer herbs to cover it adequately.