Rice fields have became one of the most important habitat for rallids in Spain and, probably, in hole Europe.
All rallids of "walking morphology", those adapted to walk on floating plants, mud or shallow water, find in rice paddies cover and sources of food.
In the marshes of Guadalquivir (SW Spain), including Doñana area, I´ve found 4 species breeding in rice fields and one more on passade. The breeders are Purple gallinule (Porphyrio porphyrio), Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Water rail (Rallus aquaticus) and Baillon´s crake (Porzana pusilla). On passage, Spotted crake (Porzana porzana) is found every year.
adult Baillon´s crake with chicks in a rice field in Sevilla, SW Spain (photo Miguel Ángel Rojas)
Probably all other rallids recorded in Iberian Peninsula can be found in rice paddies at any moment of the year. However, the intensification of the technics of growing rice and the use of several chemical products could play an important role in the use of this habitat and breeding success for these and all the other species (herons, egrets, greebs, passerines).
Nevertheless, the huge size of the area of rice cultivation in Spain (and so in Italy and many other countries) offer many possibilities. Only in Sevilla area, some 36000 ha are occupied. But the densities can be very low and fluctiating. This is what I´m investigating at the momeny. I´d like to use this space to share with you every new I could find. I hpoe you will be there....... Regards
J. David Muñoz