The Henderson crake, known as ‘chicken-bird’ to the Pitcairners (4), is an opportunistic feeder that scratches in the leaf litter with its feet and tosses away leaves with its bill, consuming any insects, spiders, skink eggs, roundworms, and terrestrial molluscs it encounters. It also picks prey from the undersides of leaves (2) (5). Pairs of Henderson crakes forage together, remaining within ten metres of each other and maintaining contact with frequent frog-like ‘kwa’ calls (3). Bold and curious, Henderson crakes are known to approach stationary observers (3).
The monogamous Henderson crake forms pair-bonds, and is thought to be territorial. It breeds from July to February, laying two to three eggs in generally spherical nests. The nests are constructed primarily by the male, from shredded palm leaves, and are placed up to 30 centimetres off the ground in a leaf clump or at the base of a trunk. Incubation of the eggs lasts for 21 days and is carried out by both sexes. The velvety black chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and are fed and cared for by both parents, with the assistance of young of the previous brood and by other adults in the family group. These helpers also assist with protecting the eggs and chicks from predatory crabs and rats (2) (5).