A small bird with a big call

You’re likely to have heard this bird, but probably have never seen it. You may have heard this bird’s hooting call and wondered what it is- siren? Foghorn? Alarm? Whatever your experience with the Buff-spotted Flufftail may have been, it’s pretty certain you’ve never seen this bird.

Often identified by its call, this bird can only be described as enigmatic. Birders get very excited when a Buff-spotted Flufftail is ‘heard’ in the area, and they’ll set off into the coastal scrub and bush to find it. These birds can only be described as elusive, and that too is an understatement.

If you’re interested in finding the Buff-spotted Flufftail,, you have got your work cut out for you! What’s ironic and almost laughable is that, for its huge call, this bird is only about 6 inches long- not the easiest to spot in the bush. These birds often call at night; so even if you do hear them, the odds are already stacked against you once night falls. There are a few species of Flufftails, which means that their habitat varies too- some are forest-dwelling while other are comfortable making their nests in the marshes. However, they do not limit themselves to wildlands- gardens are just as good for these chicken-like birds. If a garden has a lot of trees and shrubbery, its likely to attract the Flufftail. If you do happen to hear one of them, you’ll likely identify their behavioural patterns and that much of the hooting happens at dusk and into the night. Don’t think for one second that you’ll find the bird, because you most probably won’t. They like to hop around the garden as they go which, for the uninformed, becomes even more confusing!

Birders love a challenge and the chance to brag about what they have seen, and the Flufftail is certainly on that list! A small, dull bird with an overwhelming call has become the ultimate master of illusion, and still manages to frustrate even the experienced birder. Birders will tell you they have heard one and almost, just nearly, caught a glimpse of it. Unless there’s photographic evidence, you can put those stories in the same box as fishermen’s tales.

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