The Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis) is a small, secretive bird native to New Zealand. It measures around 20 centimetres in length and has a compact body with short wings and a tail. The plumage of the Spotless Crake is predominantly brown, with dark streaks and bars on its upper parts, and lighter brown or greyish underparts. It has a short, stubby bill and long legs, which are adapted for navigating through dense vegetation.
Spotless Crakes are found in wetland habitats throughout New Zealand, including swamps, marshes, reed beds, and areas with dense vegetation. They prefer environments with thick covers and ample water sources. Spotless Crakes have a widespread distribution across the country, including both the North and South Islands, as well as several offshore islands.
Spotless Crakes are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of invertebrates, small vertebrates, and plant matter. They forage in wetland habitats, using their bill to probe into the soil, leaf litter, and dense vegetation for insects, spiders, worms, snails, and small frogs. They also consume seeds, berries, and other plant material when available.
Spotless Crakes breed during the New Zealand spring and summer seasons. They construct nest platforms using plant materials, often elevated above the water level in their wetland habitat. The female lays a clutch of 4-6 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating them. After hatching, the parents care for the chicks, feeding them a diet primarily consisting of invertebrates.
The Spotless Crake is classified as "Nationally Vulnerable" in New Zealand due to its limited distribution and vulnerability to habitat loss and degradation. Wetland drainage, predation by introduced mammals, and habitat fragmentation pose significant threats to its population. Conservation efforts focus on protecting and restoring wetland habitats and implementing predator control measures to support Spotless Crake populations.
Spotless Crakes are strongly associated with wetland vegetation, including Raupō (bulrush), rushes, sedges, and other dense vegetation found in marshes and reed beds. These habitats provide cover, nesting sites, and a rich supply of invertebrates and small vertebrates for food.