WATER-CRAKE (Rallus poreina, Linn.), the Spotted Rail, bill is of a greenish yellow, and not more than three-quarters of an inch long. The top of the head to the nape is dusky slightly streaked with rusty brown ; a brown and white mottled stripe passes from the bill, over and behind the eyes; the throat is of a freckled dull gray ; the neck and breast are olive, marked with small white spots; the sides dusky and olive, crossed with bars of white ; and the under parts are a mixture of ciuerous dirty white and yellow. The colour of the plumage of all the upper parts is dusky and olive brown, spotted, edged, barred, or streaked with white ; the spots on the wing-coverts are surrounded with black, which gives them a studded or pearly appearance; and the white bars on the scapulars form a beautiful contrast to the dark ground of the feathers on those parts: the legs are of a yellowish green.
The water-crake, in its general appearance, though much less, resembles the corn-crake, but its manners and habits are very different. It inhabits the sides of small streams or swampy grounds; is wild, solitary, and shy, aud will swim, dive, or skulk under any covert to evade the pursuit of the sportsman, and unless closely pressed will not take wing. It is a scarce bird, and said to be migratory. It forms a buoyant nest, which rises and falls with the
ebbing and flowing of the water. The female lays from six to eight eggs. The young require little fostering, and soon scramble away from the mother and shift for themselves. The water-crake is found in France and Italy also, but nowhere in great numbers. The flesh has a fine and delicate flavour, and is esteemed by epicures as a delicious morsel; particularly those which are caught in the rice-fields in Piedmont.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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