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Animals

Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 09, 2021

15 Amaze-wing Facts About The African Finfoot For Kids

Check out these awesome African finfoot facts.

The African finfoot, also known as the Podica senegalensis, is one of the largest species from the family of Heliornithidae. It can grow up to 21 in (53 cm) and is found in abundance around Africa. One of the most distinctive ranges of features of the bird is its bright-red feet and slate-gray neck. 

They are specifically found in areas containing fast-moving streams, rivers, wet forests, or similar water bodies. They love vegetation as they are quite elusive in nature and do not like to be disturbed. These birds are one of the least spotted birds of the world since they always run away when spotted as a result of which, a minimal amount of data is found about them. The birds do not migrate to other places but form new colonies if they like a spot. They can be compared to a cormorant with their similar features but are flightless and great swimmers. They also resemble the torrent duck from South America and rails with their small head, slender body, sharp bill, and long neck. They are omnivorous in nature eating insects, amphibians, crustaceans, seeds, and leaves.

If you love reading about birds, then do check out our Savannah sparrow facts and bateleur eagle facts!

African Finfoot Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African finfoot?

The African finfoot is a type of bird from the family of Heliornithidae under the animal kingdom.

What class of animal does an African finfoot belong to?

The African finfoot belongs to the Aves class of the animal kingdom from the family of Heliornithidae.

How many African finfoots are there in the world?

The exact population range of the African finfoot is not recorded but there is a stable population distribution according to previous records which is why it does not fall in the range of vulnerable species. However, it is to be noted that there has been a consequent decline in the population trend in recent studies that have to be monitored and as such, is a cause of concern.  

Where does an African finfoot live?

The African finfoot is found in abundance in South Africa, in tropical and subtropical forests around the Congo basin, Senegal, Ethiopia, and the Cape of Good Hope. They are mostly found around the forest-belt of western and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo along with northwestern Tanzania and Uganda. They are also found in Kenya, Cameroon, Gabon, Angola, eastern Zambia, Mozambique, and South Africa. 

What is an African finfoot's habitat?

An African finfoot habitat consists of large ranges of water and land surrounding Central, Western, and Southern Africa. The birds are usually found in tropical sub-Saharan African regions surrounded by water bodies like rivers, fast-moving streams, lakes, coastal creeks, and similar areas abundant in vegetation and protective covering in the banks. They also live in savannahs, mangrove swamps, and reed beds. They do not migrate but form new colonies in their preferred habitat. 

Who do African finfoots live with?

Finfoots are one among many birds of the world who prefer living alone or in pairs. 

How long does an African finfoot live?

The lifespan of an African finfoot is not known since the bird is quite secretive in nature due to which, there is no amount of solid data available. 

How do they reproduce?

Their breeding season is from August to April, usually after the end of the rainy season. The mating rituals begin with the male finfoot showcasing his breeding plumage to attract mates. The birds form a monogamous bond and remain with one partner for the whole breeding cycle. Their nest is usually bowl-shaped, made up of grass, twigs, stalks, leaves, and reeds placed on an inclined branch or a fallen tree above the water surface. They are usually placed in driftwood between branches. 

The female lays an average of one to two eggs that are pale green in color with purple and brown streaks. The incubation lasts for about three weeks and once the chicks hatch, they leave the nest after a few days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the African finfoot is considered of Least Concern. It is widespread even if scarce but is threatened due to a series of environmental issues and habitat fragmentation. It is to be noted that there are no African finfoots in captivity, which is a cause of concern for their declining existence. 

African Finfoot Fun Facts

What do African finfoots look like?

The finfoot is a great runner in water.

African finfoots are small underwater specialists with long necks, sharp beaks, and bright-red feet. Their plumage is usually pale underneath with a darker shade on top. The bird resembles a duck or a crane and is closely linked to bustards, coots, and gallinules. 

They have a dark brown and white back along with a gray head with white stripes running behind their eyes, all the way down to their neck. Their webbed, lobed feet help them to be graceful and agile underwater. Their plumage may vary but the male is usually darker than the female along with having a black chin instead of white, like the females. 

How cute are they?

These birds do not like being watched, which we think is adorable. Also, not to forget that they look very cute when they run away from intruders in the water with their spread wings and red webbed feet. 

How do they communicate?

The bird is very secretive in nature making it hard to watch and study. As a result of this, there is little information regarding its distribution and communicative behavior. But we do know that they don't like being disturbed and readily run across the water surface, fluttering their wings when caught staring. They usually prefer being quiet but have loud songs and calls during the breeding season. 

How big is an African finfoot?

The tropical masked African finfoot (Podica senegalensis) can grow up to a length of 18-21 in (46-53 cm). 

How fast can an African finfoot fly?

African finfoots cannot truly fly, even if they have wings. It is one of the reasons why they always stay hidden and around shaded areas near their food foraging grounds. 

How much does an African finfoot weigh?

The average weight of an African finfoot (Podica senegalensis) is estimated to be about 0.26-0.33 lb (120-150 g). 

What are the male and female names of the species?

These birds do not have any sex-specific names. 

What would you call a baby African finfoot?

Baby finfoots are called chicks or hatchlings, similar to other species of birds. 

What do they eat?

They are omnivorous in nature whose diet mainly consists of underwater invertebrates, larval mayflies, aquatic crustaceans, grasshoppers, dragonflies, frogs, spiders, crabs, snails, fish, millipedes, beetles, amphibians, frogs, leaves, and seeds. Unlike grebes, the birds land quite well while feeding on the overhang vegetation in the surface water. 

Are they dangerous?

No, these masked birds are not at all dangerous as there has never been any human contact so far but are territorial in nature which may be dangerous for intruders.   

Would they make a good pet?

No, being one among many wild birds of the world with specific needs and freedom, the African finfoot (Podica senegalensis) is not a good choice for a pet and must not be kept confined. 

Did you know...

It is very hard to spot a masked African finfoot (Podica senegalensis) because of its secluded nature. The birds are underwater experts and are usually found in places with abundant vegetation and hiding places. If you ever wish to spot one then be sure to be around their natural habitats. The bird has bright-red webbed feet that can easily be easily spotted even if its upper body is dark. Also, remember that they have a long neck and a sharp beak that usually resembles a duck.

How many eggs do African finfoot lay?

The African finfoot is a monogamous bird that builds a bowl-shaped nest made out of branch, sticks, and reeds over fallen trees and overhanging branches above the water surface. Their nests are usually untidy and remain scattered. The female usually lays a small clutch-size of one to two eggs that are incubated by her and later on left when the chicks hatch and leave the nest after a few days. 

Are African finfoots endemic?

Yes, the African finfoot (Podica senegalensis) is an endemic breed from the African continent, usually found in abundance in several water bodies and natural habitats mainly in the south and coastal areas. 

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including Australian magpie fun facts and northern goshawk facts for kids

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable African finfoot coloring pages.

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