White-breasted Waterhen( Amaurornis phoenicurus )

Swarnava/ January 9, 2017/ Uncategorized

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

The White-breasted Waterhen is a waterbird of the rail and crake family which is widely distributed in Southeast Asia including the Indian subcontinent. In the local language of Bengal it is referred to as “Dahuk”.

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White-breasted Waterhen


Where could you spot the White-breasted Waterhen in Kolkata?

The White-breasted Waterhen mostly prefers to stay near open marshes, ponds. In Kolkata, you could spot them mostly at places with waterbodies namely Central Park, Rabindra Sarobar, Lion Safari Park, Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, Shyamkhola, and Eco Park.

When should you photograph the White-breasted Waterhen?

One great thing about photographing the White-breasted Waterhen is that they are visible all throughout the day till dusk.They are shy by nature;hence be careful while approaching them. Since it is a waterbird try to spot them near open marshes, ponds.

Photographing the bird, characteristics, breeding and the necessary details:

A large bird with a dark slaty upperpart with a clean white face, breast and belly is what the White-breasted Waterhen looks in appearance. The underside of the tail is reddish-brown. The beak is yellowish, with a reddish base, but becomes more olive outside of the breeding season . The long legs are yellowish, with large, rather ungainly-looking feet, and the legs are dangled in flight. The female white-breasted waterhen is generally smaller than the male, with a somewhat duller beak, while juveniles have duller plumage, with the white of the underparts tinged brown, and a darker beak and legs.

This species is described as being very noisy during the breeding season, producing a loud call consisting of various grunts, roars, quacks and chuckles. This species has a varied diet which includes insects, worms, spiders, and even small fish, as well as grass seeds and the roots and shoots of marsh plants. They build their nests neat to a wetland, wherever water is surrounded by a certain amount of thick cover.

White-breasted Waterhen call: kwaak-kwaak, kook-kook-kook

I have photographed the White-breasted Waterhen bird at Central Park, Kolkata where they could be mostly found in groups. Even with sensing the slightest movement of a person, they would run to a safe distance or run into marshes to hide although they are somewhat bolder compared to other rail birds as they often seen stepping slowly with their tail cocked upright in open marshes, swamps, bamboo stands and ponds. In fact, they are a type of bird which can climb a tree as well as swim in ponds.


  • They are shy birds and not easy to approach at all , approach with caution
  • They are mostly found near marshes in ponds or pools
  • They can be spotted during almost the whole day till dusk , so spotting them is not difficult
  • A minimum of 70-300mm lens is required


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About swarnava

Passionate in wildlife photography, I am presently pursuing a Bachelor of Design in Fashion Communication from NIFT Kolkata, India.