The Corn-crake or Landrail (Crex pratensis), Fig. 50, a member of the order Grallae or Waders, and of the family Rallidae, or Rails, is of a reddish-brown colour. It is a regular visitant to Britain in summer, arriving in April and leaving in October. It lives in fields and nestles and runs among the long grass. The name is expressive of its cry, which may be so exactly imitated by drawing a quill sharply across the teeth of a comb, that the bird may be decoyed by the sound until quite close to the decoy-man.

The Corn crake.

Fig. 50. - The Corn-crake.

The Corn-crake is very averse to rising on the wing, and the young when taken feign death with admirable accuracy, nor do they move until they imagine that the intruder is safely out of the way. Once a parent bird assumed a death-like appearance in presence of capture of its young, but on these being released and safely ensconced in the long grass it opened its eyes and fled with a crake. The nest is formed of dried grass, collected and worked into some depression in the ground, and contains from eight to twelve eggs, of a greyish-yellow, covered with dark brown spots. The length of the bird is about 9 in. It feeds on worms, slugs, and insects, also, in due season, corn.