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White-Breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) 

(Pennant, 1769) 

Figure 1: An adult White-Breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus). (Photo courtesy of Kieron Gabriel Ng)

Table of Contents


The White-Breasted Water held is a bold bird that can be often seen foraging openly in a wide range of habitats such as wetlands, mangroves and even in urban areas such as roadsides.1 It has a loud, distinctive call that can often be heard in the evenings.2 This bird is considered as both a common resident and a migrant in Singapore and is also found in many different countries.1  According to IUCN Red List, this species is catagorized as Least Concern (LC).3


The generic epithet Amaurornis is derived from the Greek words amauros, meaning dusky or brown, and ornis meaning bird, while the specific epithet phoenicurus is in reference to its red tail.4


Descriptions were taken from Gopakumar and Kaimal (2008).5


Figure 2: An adult White-Breasted Waterhen. (Photo courtesy of Kieron Gabriel Ng)

The adult White-Breasted Waterhen can be identified by its yellow legs, light green bill and grey feathers all over its body except for the face, throat and abdomen which are white (Figure 2).5


Figure 3: An adult White-Breasted Waterhen with a chick. (Photo taken from NParks Flora and Fauna Web)

The juvenile White-Breasted Waterhen can be identified by it black downy feathers, black legs and absence of white colouration at the throat and abdomen (Figure 3).5



Taxonomy and Systematics


Ref Notes
1  Singapore Birds Project, n.d. White-breasted Waterhen. Available at: Accessed on 11 November 2018 [ a b ]
2 Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, 2018. Amaurornis phoenicurus (Pennant, 1769). Available at: Accessed on 11 November 2018.
3  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2018). White-breasted Waterhen. Available at: Accessed 11 November 2018.
4 Jobling, J. (2010). Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: A & C Black, p.43.
5 Gopakumar, P. S. and Kaimal, P. P. (2008). Loss of Wetland breeding habitats and population decline of White-breasted Waterhen, Amaurornis Phoenicurus Phoenicurus (Pennent)-A Case Study. Proceedings of Taal 2007: The 12th World Lake Conference, pp.529-536. [ a b c ]

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