Corncrake Crex crex

The corncrake, also referred to as landrail, is an extremely secretive bird hiding and nesting in long grassland around the outskirts of Northern and Western Scotland. Corncrakes have a round body with a long neck and are surprisingly small (only a little bigger than a blackbird). Females and males look the same: they have spotted upper parts and a grey–blue head and neck. Juveniles have a buff coloured head and neck, while chicks are completely jet black. Though they are rarely seen in flight, they are unmistakable when flying due to their chestnut wings and trailing legs.


The corncrake is an extremely secretive bird that spends most of its time hiding in meadows and farmland. You are more likely to hear their loud rasping call than to see them. Corncrakes are migratory and overwinter in Africa before returning to the UK for summer.


  • Length: 27 – 30cm
  • Wingspan: 46 – 53cm
  • Weight: 120 – 200g


Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).


Western and Northern parts of Scotland

When to see

April – September


  • Although corncrake chicks cannot fly until they’re 35 days old, the female often abandons them to fend for themselves at 12 days old, so she can start another nest.
  • Their repetitive call sounds like two sticks being rubbed together.
  • Most members of the crake family are usually found in marshland or other wet habitats, but corncrakes prefer drier land.

Common name


Species name

Crex crex

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

April – September

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Coigach & Assynt or the Isle of Eigg

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