Red-legged Crake in Sabah Malaysia

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Sabah Red Legged Crake

One of the birds that I thought I would not encounter is the Red-legged Crake in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. But, to my surprise, this beautiful water bird from the rail and crake family was spotted asleep.

And of all place to see the Red-legged Crake, it was at Tabin Wildlife Reserve during one of my early birding trips in early 2015. Unfortunately, the location of this bird was also very near the Sumatran Rhino Conservation, where the last surviving rhino passed away of cancer in 2019.

Red-legged Crake in Sabah Malaysia

So that you know, this water bird is also a lifer for me and is a medium-sized bird measuring around 23 to 25 cm in size. It also gets its name from the red coloured legs.

Apparently, a common waterbird and listed as ‘least concerned’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species comes from the family Rallidae of Rails, Moorhens and Coots, and Latin as Rallus fasciatus.

It is also a generally shy bird and unobtrusive, moving quietly through wet vegetation and tends to be difficult to see naturally. Most sightings have been out of pure luck.

History notes that the Red-legged Crake was discovered in Sumatra in 1822 by British statesman Sir T. S. Raffles.

Photo of Red-legged Crake
A description of the Red-legged Crake showing the juvenile, adult and in flight. Photo from

Where to find the Red-legged Crake in Malaysia?

The good news is that this common waterbird is found on both Peninsular and in Borneo, Malaysia. It is spotted in most water catchment areas like streams, ponds, lakes and rivers.

Sightings of the Red-legged Crake have been documented in Peninsular Malaysia at the Penang Youth Park, Taman Negara National Park in Pahang, Taman Botani Shaha Alam in Selangor, Bukit Tinggi in Pahang, Tanjung Kling in Melaka and in Putrajaya Wetlands. There are, of course, more sighting locations.

In Malaysia Borneo, the bird has been spotted at Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok, Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, and even at the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah. In Sarawak, it has been spotted in Miri, Saratok, Sibu and Kuching.

It is also a common bird in other Asean countries like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines, and even Burma and Eastern Bangladesh. Again, mostly sighted near water areas in these countries.

Red-legged Crake Call

The call is unique as for the first time hearing it, and it sounds like a funny laugh that goes ‘gogogogogok’. For those who want to know what the Red-legged Crake’s call is, head over to Xeno-Canto to listen to it.

Malaysia Red-legged Crake
The Red-legged Crake taking a nap while I photographed it.

Other Names for Red-legged Crake

The Red-legged Crake goes by a few other names, and in the Malay language, it is called “Sintar Api” or “Sintar Kaki Merah“.

Other common English names include;

  • Malay Banded Crake
  • Malay Banded Rail
  • Malay Crake
  • Malay Rail
  • Malaysian Banded Crake
  • Red-legged Banded Crake
  • Red-legged Chestnut Rail


You can also check out my other birds of Malaysia as I am slowly building a database of all the birds I have spotted, plus adding vital information for other birders out there.

For my travel bird-watching equipment, I used a standard Nikon D5300 DSLR with a 55-300mm lens to photograph this bird back in 2015 and was taken hand-held from a distance of around 15 meters.

As this bird was a lifer for me during my bird watching trip to Tabin Wildlife Reserve, I will always cherish the moment because it was asleep with its head tucked in when I encountered the bird.

Anyway, I hope the information and experience shared here will come in handy for you, as the Red-legged Crake in Sanbah Malaysia is possibly one of my favourite bird sightings at Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

About Bird Watching Asia

Bird Watching Asia is a self-funded project to promote bird watching in Malaysia and around Asia.

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