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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

Introduction

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 canals.1

It has a loud, distinctive call that can often be heard in the evenings.1 This bird is considered as both a common resident and a migrant in Singapore and is also found in many different countries.2  According to IUCN Red List, this species is catagorized as Least Concern (LC).3


Ethymology

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




Description

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


Adults


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


Juveniles


Figure 3: An adult White-Breasted Waterhen with a chick. (Photo taken by Mohamad Zahidi Hamid)

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




Biology

Habitat

Figure 4: White-breasted Waterhen exploring a grass patch (Photo taken by Sameen)

This species has been recorded in a wide range of habitats such as wetlands, mangroves, marshes, coastal areas, grasslands, gardens, parks and canals.1 3 However, this species has been reported to decline in number due to the loss of the habitat caused by human intereference.5 Some of their natural habitats, such as wetlands and mangroves are being lost due to human activities such as land reclamation, drainage for agricultural activites and pollution in the form of sewage and litter.6

Foraging Behaviour

Figure 5: An adult White-Breasted Waterhen foraging. (Photo courtesy of Kieron Gabriel Ng)

White-breasted waterhen foraged and fed most actively before
noon with the peak at 0700h (12.17%). After overnight fasting they try to
maximize foraging and feeding during early morning.

Foraging and feeding
techniques of white-breasted waterhen depend on location of feeding habitat and
the size, type of the diet. They mainly used three types of foraging and feeding
techniques to collect their foods: (i) foraging and feeding with walking which was
mostly used (83%) by waterhen to find out insects effectively as waterhen is
chiefly insectivore, (ii) foraging and feeding with wading which was very rare
(3.97%) because they occasionally consume mollusks and small fishes, and (iii)
foraging and feeding with running (13.03%)

The bill of white-breasted waterhen is
moderate, stout but suitable for insect capturing.

Hiding was observed to increase after the first bout of feeding
during 900h – 1000h and decreased with the increase of foraging and feeding
activity during morning and afternoon. White-breasted waterhen avoided any
conflicts with other wetland birds by hiding themselves

White-breasted waterhen avoided any
conflicts with other wetland birds by hiding themselves.7



Reproduction


Taxonomy and Systematics

Phylogeny

Type

Taxonomic Confusion?

Phylogenetic Relationships

References

Footnotes
Ref Notes
1 Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, 2018. Amaurornis phoenicurus (Pennant, 1769). Available at:http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/dna/organisms/details/474 Accessed on 11 November 2018. [ a b c ]
2  Singapore Birds Project, n.d. White-breasted Waterhen. Available at: https://singaporebirds.com/species/white-breasted-waterhen/ Accessed on 11 November 2018
3  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2018). White-breasted Waterhen. Available at: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22692640/95217833#geographic-range Accessed 11 November 2018. [ a b ]
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 d ]
6 Kumar, P. and Gupta, S. K. (2010). Diversity and Abundance of Wetland Birds around Kurukshetra, India. Our Nature, 7(1).
7 Akhtar, S., Kabir, M. M., Begum, S. and Hasan, M. K. (2015). Activity pattern of white-breasted waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) at Jahangirnagar university campus, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh Journal of Zoology, 41(2), p.189.

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