Structure of White- Breasted Water Hen
White- Breasted Water Hen is a dark slaty bird with a clean white face, breast and belly. They are somewhat bolder than most other rails and are often seen stepping slowly with their tail cocked upright in open marshes or even drains near busy roads. They are largely crepuscular in activity and during the breeding season, just after the first rains, make loud and repetitive croaking calls.
Sexes of White- Breasted Water Hen
The adult white- Breasted Water Hen has mainly dark grey upperparts and flanks, and a white face, neck and breast. The lower belly and undertails are cinnamon coloured. The body is flattened laterally to allow easier passage through the reeds or undergrowth. They have long toes, a short tail and a yellow bill and legs. Sexes are similar but females measure slightly smaller. Immature birds are much duller versions of the adults. The downy chicks are black, as with all rails.
Distribution of White- Breasted Water Hen
There are several subspecies that are named for the populations that are widely distributed. The nominate subspecies are described from Sri Lanka but is often widened to include chinensis of mainland Indian states and adjoining regions in Asia, west to Arabia and east nearly to Japan. The remaining subspecies of White-breasted water hen are those from islands and include insularis of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, mid-nicobaricus of the central Nicobars, leucocephala of Car Nicobar, maldivus of the Maldives, javanicus of Java and leucomelanus of Sulawesi and the Lesser Sundas.
Breeding Habitats of White- Breasted Water Hen
The breeding habitat of White- Breasted Water Hen is marshes across south Asia from Pakistan, Maldives, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to south China, Philippines, and Indonesia. They are mainly seen in the plains but have been known from the higher hills such as in Nainital (1300m) and the High Range (1500m) in Kerala. These large 32 centimetres long rails are permanent residents throughout their range. They make short distance movements and are known to colonize new areas. They have been noted as some of the early colonizers on the volcanic island of Rakata. Although most often found near freshwater, they are also found near brackish water and even the seashore when there is no freshwater as on the volcanic Barren Islands in the Andamans and Nicobar Islands.