Crex crex (Linnaeus, 1758) CE CORNC 4210
Family: Gruiformes > Rallidae

Corncrake, Chris Knights

Now largely restricted to a small number of island and coastal strongholds in Scotland and Ireland, this migratory crake is a summer visitor to our shores.

Once a widespread and abundant species over much of Britain & Ireland, the Corncrake's decline is the result of changing agricultural practices, especially the more intensive management of the meadow habitats favoured by this species.

Attempts to reintroduce Corncrakes to former haunts in the eastern half of England are proving successful, though wider gains elsewhere are the result of initiatives to manage favoured habitats better.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Corncrake

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Corncrake identification is often straightforward.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Corncrake, provided by xeno-canto contributors.



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The Corncrake has decreased substantially since the middle of the 20th century when it was still a widespread breeding species. The species is monitored by the RBBP and subject to dedicated annual surveys by the RSPB. Numbers have increased strongly in the 25 years to 2019 but there has been a decline in the latter part of that period and the 904 singing males recorded in 2019 was the lowest number since 2003 (Eaton et al. 2021).


Corncrakes have declined markedly since the 1970s and are now confined to a small number of coastal and island strongholds in Scotland and Ireland, with outlying populations in southern England the result of intense management and captive releases.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Corncrakes are summer visitors from April onwards, with records presumably declining as birds cease calling; a few records of passage birds in autumn.

Weekly occurence of Corncrake from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Corncrake ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Corncrake, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Traon
Welsh: Rhegen yr Yd
Catalan: guatlla maresa eurasiàtica
Czech: chrástal polní
Danish: Engsnarre
Dutch: Kwartelkoning
Estonian: rukkirääk
Finnish: ruisrääkkä
French: Râle des genêts
German: Wachtelkönig
Hungarian: haris
Icelandic: Engirella
Irish: Traonach
Italian: Re di quaglie
Latvian: grieze
Lithuanian: paprastoji griežle
Norwegian: Åkerrikse
Polish: derkacz (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: codornizão
Slovak: chrapkác polný
Slovenian: kosec
Spanish: Guión de codornices
Swedish: kornknarr
Folkname: Hay Crake, Land Rail


Interpretation and scientific publications about Corncrake from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There is good evidence that the widespread declines during the 20th century were caused by agricultural intensification, in particular early and mechanised mowing of meadows (Green et al. 2009; see also review by Green, 2020). Intensive conservation efforts have sustained the population in its remaining strongholds on the Hebrides. Successful measures to maintain and increase the remaining Scottish island populations have resulted from the conservation measures implemented within agri-environment schemes, including the planting of early cover and the use of Corn Crake friendly mowing methods (O'Brien et al. 2006, Green 2020). However, slight declines since 2015 may have been caused by slight changes in the agri-environment scheme prescriptions which may have led to changes in mowing practices; further research is needed to confirm this and recommend solutions (Green 2020).

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