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Rallidae - Rails, Crakes, Gallinules & Coots etc.

African Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra ©Trevor Hardaker Website

The Rallidae, commonly 'rails', are a large cosmopolitan family of small to medium-sized birds. The family exhibits considerable diversity and the family also includes rails, crakes, coots, swamphens and gallinules. Many species are associated with wetlands, although the family is found in every terrestrial habitat except dry deserts, polar regions and alpine areas above the snow line.

Members of the Rallidae are found on every continent except Antarctica. There are numerous island species. The most common habitats are marshland or dense forest. Rails are especially fond of dense vegetation. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. Reed beds are a particularly favoured habitat. They are omnivorous, and those that migrate do so at night: most nest in dense vegetation. In general, they are shy and secretive birds, and are difficult to observe.

Most species walk and run vigorously on strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and although they are generally weak fliers, they are, nevertheless, capable of covering long distances.

Island species often become flightless, and many of them are now extinct following the introduction of terrestrial predators such as cats, rats and pigs.

Many reedbed species are secretive (apart from loud calls), crepuscular, and have laterally flattened bodies. In the Old World, long-billed species tend to be called rails and short-billed species crakes. North American species are normally called rails irrespective of bill length.

The larger species are also sometimes given other names. The black coots are more adapted to open water than their relatives, and some other large species are called gallinules and swamp hens.

The rails have suffered disproportionally from human changes to the environment and it is estimated that several hundred species of island rail have become extinct because of this. Several island species of rail remain endangered and conservation organisations and governments continue to work to prevent their extinction.

According to the IOC there are 134 extant species of Rallidae (Rails, Crakes, Coots & Gallinules), which are:

Nkulengu Rail Himantornis haematopus

Swinhoe's Rail Coturnicops exquisitus
Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis
Speckled Rail Coturnicops notatus

Ocellated Crake Micropygia schomburgkii

Chestnut Forest Rail Rallicula rubra
White-striped Forest Rail Rallicula leucospila
Forbes's Forest Rail Rallicula forbesi
Mayr's Forest Rail Rallicula mayri

Red-necked Crake Rallina tricolor
Andaman Crake Rallina canningi
Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata
Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides

Chestnut-headed Crake Anurolimnas castaneiceps

Russet-crowned Crake Laterallus viridis
Black-banded Crake Laterallus fasciatus
Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius
Rusty-flanked Crake Laterallus levraudi
Ruddy Crake Laterallus ruber
White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis
Grey-breasted Crake Laterallus exilis
Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis
Galapagos Crake Laterallus spilonota
Red-and-white Crake Laterallus leucopyrrhus
Rufous-faced Crake Laterallus xenopterus

Woodford's Rail Nesoclopeus woodfordi

Weka Gallirallus australis
Calayan Rail Gallirallus calayanensis
New Caledonian Rail Gallirallus lafresnayanus
Lord Howe Woodhen Gallirallus sylvestris
Okinawa Rail Gallirallus okinawae
Barred Rail Gallirallus torquatus
Pink-legged Rail Gallirallus insignis
Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis
Guam Rail Gallirallus owstoni
Roviana Rail Gallirallus rovianae
Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus

Mangrove Rail Rallus longirostris
Clapper Rail Rallus crepitans
Ridgway's Rail Rallus obsoletus
King Rail Rallus elegans
Aztec Rail Rallus tenuirostris
Plain-flanked Rail Rallus wetmorei
Virginia Rail Rallus limicola
Ecuadorian Rail Rallus aequatorialis
Bogota Rail Rallus semiplumbeus
Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Brown-cheeked Rail Rallus indicus
African Rail Rallus caerulescens
Madagascan Rail Rallus madagascariensis

Brown-banded Rail Lewinia mirifica
Lewin's Rail Lewinia pectoralis
Auckland Rail Lewinia muelleri

White-throated Rail Dryolimnas cuvieri

African Crake Crex egregia
Corn Crake Crex crex

Rouget's Rail Rougetius rougetii

Snoring Rail Aramidopsis plateni

Inaccessible Island Rail Atlantisia rogersi

Little Wood Rail Aramides mangle
Rufous-necked Wood Rail Aramides axillaris
Grey-necked Wood Rail Aramides cajaneus
Rufous-naped Wood Rail Aramides albiventris
Brown Wood Rail Aramides wolfi
Giant Wood Rail Aramides ypecaha
Slaty-breasted Wood Rail Aramides saracura
Red-winged Wood Rail Aramides calopterus

Uniform Crake Amaurolimnas concolor

Blue-faced Rail Gymnocrex rosenbergii
Talaud Rail Gymnocrex talaudensis
Bare-eyed Rail Gymnocrex plumbeiventris

Brown Crake Amaurornis akool
Isabelline Bush-hen Amaurornis isabellina
Plain Bush-hen Amaurornis olivacea
Pale-vented Bush-hen Amaurornis moluccana
Talaud Bush-hen Amaurornis magnirostris
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra
Sakalava Rail Amaurornis olivieri

Black-tailed Crake Porzana bicolor
Little Crake Porzana parva
Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla
Spotted Crake Porzana porzana
Australian Crake Porzana fluminea
Sora Porzana carolina
Dot-winged Crake Porzana spiloptera
Ash-throated Crake Porzana albicollis
Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca
Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii
Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis
Henderson Crake Porzana atra
Yellow-breasted Crake Porzana flaviventer
White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea

Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

Zapata Rail Cyanolimnas cerverai

Colombian Crake Neocrex colombiana
Paint-billed Crake Neocrex erythrops

Spotted Rail Pardirallus maculatus
Blackish Rail Pardirallus nigricans
Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

Chestnut Rail Eulabeornis castaneoventris

Invisible Rail Habroptila wallacii

New Guinea Flightless Rail Megacrex inepta

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
African Swamphen Porphyrio madagascariensis
Grey-headed Swamphen Porphyrio poliocephalus
Black-backed Swamphen Porphyrio indicus
Philippine Swamphen Porphyrio pulverulentus
Australasian Swamphen Porphyrio melanotus
South Island Takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri
Allen's Gallinule Porphyrio alleni
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica
Azure Gallinule Porphyrio flavirostris

Makira Woodhen Gallinula silvestris
Gough Moorhen Gallinula comeri
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Lesser Moorhen Paragallinula angulata

Spot-flanked Gallinule Porphyriops melanops

Black-tailed Nativehen Tribonyx ventralis
Tasmanian Nativehen Tribonyx mortierii

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Hawaiian Coot Fulica alai
American Coot Fulica americana
White-winged Coot Fulica leucoptera
Andean Coot Fulica ardesiaca
Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata
Red-fronted Coot Fulica rufifrons
Giant Coot Fulica gigantea
Horned Coot Fulica cornuta

Family Links

Rails, Coots, Gallinules & Crakes Rallidae

Wikipedia

The rails, or Rallidae, are a large cosmopolitan family of small- to medium-sized ground-living birds. The family exhibits considerable diversity and also includes the crakes, coots, and gallinules. Many species are associated with wetlands, although the family is found in every terrestrial habitat except dry deserts, polar regions, and alpine areas above the snow line.

Rails, Coots, Gallinules & Crakes Rallidae

Cornell Family Account

Annotated list…

Rails, Coots, Gallinules & Crakes Rallidae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list

Rails, Coots, Gallinules & Crakes Rallidae

Family Account

The term "thin as a rail" is a comparison to members of the Rallidae. Many are adapted to living in wetlands, slipping silently between reeds, and making them almost invisible to observers.

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

BirdLife Species Account

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

IUCN Species Status

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Species Links

American Coot Fulica americana

Species Account

The American coot (Fulica americana), also known as a mud hen, is a bird of the family Rallidae. Though commonly mistaken to be ducks, American coots belong to a distinct order. Unlike the webbed feet of ducks, coots have broad, lobed scales on their lower legs and toes that fold back with each step in order to facilitate walking on dry land.

Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus

BirdLife Species Account

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

Species Account

The adult Australian Spotted Crake is dark grey on its face, forehead, throat and chest. The crown of its head, the back of its neck and its upper parts are brownish olive, streaked black and finely spotted with white. Its lower flanks are black barred white, and the underside of its tail is white.

Azure Gallinule Porphyrio flavirostris

BirdLife Species Account

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla

Species Account

The Baillon's crake (Porzana pusilla) is a very small waterbird of the family Rallidae.

(African) Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile…

Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis

BirdLife Species Account

Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis

BirdLife Species Account

Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis

IUCN Species Status

Black-tailed Native-hen Gallinula ventralis

Species Account

The black-tailed nativehen (Tribonyx ventralis) is a rail native to Australia.

Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis

Species Account

The buff-banded rail (Gallirallus philippensis) is a distinctively coloured, highly dispersive, medium-sized rail of the rail family, Rallidae. This species comprises several subspecies found throughout much of Australasia and the south-west Pacific region, including the Philippines (where it is known as tikling), New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand (where it is known as the banded rail or moho-pereru in Māori),[2] and numerous smaller islands, covering a range of latitudes from the tropics to the Subantarctic.

California Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus

Species Account

Sub-species account

Clapper Rail Rallus crepitans

Species Account

The clapper rail (Rallus crepitans) is a member of the rail family, Rallidae. The taxonomy for this species is confusing and still being determined. The Ridgway's rail and the mangrove rail have been recently split. Furthermore, some taxonomists consider that the king rail and Aztec rail should be considered within this group, as those birds look similar and the birds are known to interbreed where they share territories

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea

Species Account

The grey-necked wood rail[2] or grey-cowled wood rail[3] (Aramides cajaneus) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It lives primarily in forests and mangroves of Central and South America.

King Rail Rallus elegans

Species Account

The king rail (Rallus elegans) is a waterbird, the largest North American rail.

Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus

Species Account

The slaty-breasted rail (Gallirallus striatus) is a species of rail found in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Breeding has been recorded in July near Dehradun in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Species Account

The common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) (also known as the swamp chicken[2]) is a bird species in the family Rallidae. It is distributed across many parts of the Old World.

Common Coot Fulica atra

Species Account

The Eurasian coot (Fulica atra), also known as coot, is a member of the rail and crake bird family, the Rallidae. The scientific name is from Latin; Fulica is "coot", and atra is "black".[3] It is found in Europe, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa. The Australian subspecies is known as the Australian coot.

Corncrake Crex crex

Information

Account & status in UK…

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

BirdLife Species Account

Species account

Rouget's Rail Rougetius rougetii

Species Account

The Rouget's rail (Rougetius rougetii) is a species of bird in the Rallidae family. It is the only member of the genus Rougetius. It is found in Eritrea and Ethiopia...

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Wiki

The dusky moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a bird species in the rail family and is one of the eight extant species in the moorhen genus. It occurs in India, Australia, New Guinea, Borneo and Indonesia. It is often confused with the purple swamphen and the Eurasian coot due to similar appearance and overlapping distributions. They often live alongside birds in the same genus, such as the Tasmanian nativehen and the common moorhen...

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Giant Wood-Rail Aramides ypecaha

Species Account

The giant wood rail (Aramides ypecaha) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae.

Grey-breasted Crake Laterallus exilis

BirdLife Species Account

Full species account…

Hawaiian Coot Fulica alai

http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/good-bad/coot.html

Image & notes

Little Crake Porzana parva

Species Account

The little crake (Porzana parva) is a very small waterbird of the family Rallidae. The genus name Porzana is derived from Venetian terms for small rails, and parva is Latin for "small".

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Species Account

The western swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) is a "swamp hen" in the rail family Rallidae. From its French name talève sultane, it is also known as the sultana bird. This chicken-sized bird, with its large feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is easily recognisable in its native range. It used to be considered the nominate subspecies of the purple swamphen. It is found in Iberia, France, Sardinia and North Africa to Tunisia.

Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Gallinula angulata Sundevall, 1850, Lower Caffraria (= KwaZulu-Natal), South Africa. In the light of a recent molecular phylogenetic analysis, a separate monotypic genus, Paragallinula, has been proposed for present species. Monotypic.

Mangrove Rail Rallus longirostris

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus longirostris Boddaert, 1783, Cayenne, French Guiana.

Lord Howe Woodhen Gallirallus sylvestris

Species Account

The Lord Howe woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) also known as the Lord Howe Island woodhen or Lord Howe (Island) rail, is a flightless bird of the rail family, (Rallidae). It is endemic to Lord Howe Island off the Australian coast. It is currently classified as endangered by the IUCN.

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus sanguinolentus Swainson, 1838, Brazil and Chile. Sometimes placed in Rallus, or with P. nigricans, referred to genus Ortygonax. In the past, sometimes regarded as conspecific with P. nigricans. Formerly listed as P. rytirhynchos, but this name is unidentifiable. Six subspecies recognized.

Australasian Swamphen (Pukeko) Porphyrio melanotus

Species Account

I have come to the conclusion that Pukeko are suicidal. I so often see them on the side of the road, dithering, darting backwards and forwards, looking for an opportunity to cross, only to come back later to see them squashed on the road…

American Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica

Species Account

The purple gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) is a "swamp hen" in the rail family, Rallidae. Also known locally as the yellow-legged gallinule.[2] The genus name Porphyrio is the Latin for "swamphen", and martinica is "of Martinique".

Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca

Information

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation)….

Sora Rail Porzana carolinus

Species Account

The sora (Porzana carolina) is a small waterbird of the family Rallidae, sometimes also referred to as the sora rail or sora crake. The genus name Porzana is derived from Venetian terms for small rails, and Carolina refers to the Carolina Colony.[2] "Sora" is probably taken from a Native American language.

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis

http://www.mangoverde.com/birdsound/spec/spec46-31.html

Sound recordings and references

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis

BirdLife Species Account

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

Species Account

The white-breasted waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) is a waterbird of the rail and crake family, Rallidae, that is widely distributed across Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. They are dark slaty birds with a clean white face, breast and belly. They are somewhat bolder than most other rails and are often seen stepping slowly with their tail cocked upright in open marshes or even drains near busy roads. They are largely crepuscular in activity and during the breeding season, just after the first rains, make loud and repetitive croaking calls.

Weka Gallirallus australis

Species Account

The weka (also known as Maori hen or woodhen) (Gallirallus australis) is a flightless bird species of the rail family. It is endemic to New Zealand, where four subspecies are recognized. Weka are sturdy brown birds, about the size of a chicken. As omnivores, they feed mainly on invertebrates and fruit. Weka usually lay eggs between August and January; both sexes help to incubate.

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

Species Account

The watercock (Gallicrex cinerea) is a waterbird in the rail and crake family, Rallidae. It is the only member of the genus Gallicrex. Traditionally held to be closely related to moorhens (which the adult male visually resembles a lot), it is actually member of a mostly tropical Asian clade containing also Aenigmatolimnas, Amaurornis, Himantornis and Megacrex.

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

IUCN Species Status

Species account

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

Species Account

The Virginia rail (Rallus limicola) is a small waterbird, of the family Rallidae. These birds remain fairly common despite continuing loss of habitat, but are secretive by nature and more often heard than seen.

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

Cornell Species Account

A secretive bird of freshwater marshes, the Virginia Rail most often remains hidden in dense vegetation. It possesses many adaptations for moving through its habitat, including a laterally compressed body, long toes, and flexible vertebrae.

Ruddy Crake Laterallus ruber

BirdLife Species Account

Tasmanian Native-Hen Gallinula mortierii

Species Account

The Tasmanian nativehen (also Tasmanian native-hen or Tasmanian native hen) (Tribonyx mortierii) is a flightless rail and one of twelve species of birds endemic to the Australian island of Tasmania.

South Island Takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri

Species Account

Species account & Painted image

Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius

BirdLife Species Account

Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

Species Account

The striped crake (Aenigmatolimnas marginalis) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is the only species in the genus Aenigmatolimnas, having formerly been included in Porzana or in the defunct genus Poliolimnas. Its precise relationships, however, are still enigmatic.

Sora Rail Porzana carolinus

Cornell Species Account

A small, secretive bird of freshwater marshes, the Sora is the most common and widely distributed rail in North America. Its distinctive descending whinny call can be easily heard from the depths of the cattails, but actually seeing the little marsh-walker is much more difficult.

Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis

Species Account

Species account…

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Information

Full species account

Rouget's Rail Rougetius rougetii

BirdLife Species Account

Full species account...

Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis

Species Account

The yellow rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)[2] is a small secretive marsh bird, of the family Rallidae.

Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Fulica noveboracensis J. F. Gmelin, 1789, New York, USA. Closely related to, and sometimes considered conspecific with, C. exquisitus (but see above). Proposed races emersoni (from W California) and richii (NE Ohio) are synonyms of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis

IUCN Species Status

Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis

Cornell Species Account

Because of its secretive nature, the Yellow Rail is infrequently encountered. The second-smallest rail in North America, it breeds in sedge marshes and winters in marshes and hay fields.

Yellow Rail Coturnicops noveboracensis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

American Coot Fulica americana

Cornell Species Account

The waterborne American Coot is one good reminder that not everything that floats is a duck. A close look at a coot—that small head, those scrawny legs—reveals a different kind of bird entirely.

American Coot Fulica americana

IUCN Species Status

American Coot Fulica americana

HBW Species Account

American Coot Fulica americana

BirdLife Species Account

American Coot Fulica americana

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Porzana fluminea Gould, 1843, New South Wales, Australia. Monotypic.

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

IUCN Species Status

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

BirdLife Species Account

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

Species Account

The Australian crake, also known as Australian spotted crake, (Porzana fluminea) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is endemic to Australia, where its natural habitat is dense reedbeds, shallow open water and mudflats or floating vegetation in fresh or salt water wetlands including lakes, swamps and salt-marsh.

Azure Gallinule Porphyrio flavirostris

Species Account

The azure gallinule (Porphyrio flavirostris) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, and Venezuela.

Azure Gallinule Porphyrio flavirostris

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Fulica flavirostris J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Cayenne. Formerly listed as P. parvus, but name preoccupied. Sometimes placed in Gallinula or Porphyrula. Monotypic.

Azure Gallinule Porphyrio flavirostris

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Azure Gallinule Porphyrio flavirostris

Cornell Species Account

The Azure Gallinule is a skulking wetland species of northern South America. It is a small gallinule with a yellow bill, frontal shield, and legs, and pale, faded blue on the head, neck, flanks, and wings.

(African) Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris

Species Account

The black crake (Amaurornis flavirostra) is a waterbird in the rail and crake family, Rallidae. It breeds in most of sub-Saharan Africa except in very arid areas. It undertakes some seasonal movements in those parts of its range which are subject to drought. No subspecies have been described.

(African) Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris

IUCN Species Status

(African) Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris

BirdLife Species Account

(African) Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris

HBW Species Account

(African) Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus

Species Account

The austral rail (Rallus antarcticus) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is found in Argentina and Chile. Its natural habitats are swamps, freshwater lakes, and freshwater marshes. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus

IUCN Species Status

Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus Antarcticus P. P. King, 1828, Straits of Magellan. Sometimes regarded as conspecific with R. limicola and/or particularly R. semiplumbeus (but for latter see above). Monotypic.

Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus

Cornell Species Account

This rail had essentially been lost to science. After 1958 there were no more records of it from either Chile or Argentina and some contemplated the species had gone extinct. It was rediscovered in 1998 and its voice was recorded. Playback has allowed the Austral Rail to be located in various places ranging from Magallanes, Chile to the Valdez Peninsula in Chubut, Argentina.

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla

BirdLife Species Account

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla

IUCN Species Status

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla

HBW Species Account

Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis

Species Account

The black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis) is a mouse-sized member of the bird family Rallidae. It is found in scattered parts of North America and the Pacific region of South America, usually in coastal salt marshes but also in some freshwater marshes. It is extinct or threatened in many locations due to habitat loss. The largest populations in North America are in Florida and California.

Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus jamaicensis J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Jamaica.

Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis

Cornell Species Account

The smallest rail in North America, the Black Rail is perhaps the most secretive too.

Black-tailed Native-hen Gallinula ventralis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Gallinula ventralis Gould, 1837, Swan River, West Australia. Proposed races territorii (from Northern Territory) and whitei (from New South Wales) considered insufficiently distinctive to warrant recognition. Monotypic.

Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis

IUCN Species Status

Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis

Species Account

The Buff-banded Rail is a medium-sized stout rail with short legs. It has a distinctive grey eyebrow and an orange-brown band on its streaked breast. The lores, cheek and hindneck are rich chestnut. The chin and throat are grey, the upperparts streaked brown and the underparts barred black and white.

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis

Species Account

The white-throated crake (Laterallus albigularis) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae.

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Corethrura albigularis Lawrence, 1861, Atlantic side of Isthmus of Panama. Sometimes considered conspecific with L. melanophaius, which replaces present species E of Andes; may, however, be closer to L. exilis. Three subspecies recognized.

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis

Cornell Species Account

The White-throated Crake has occasionally been considered conspecific with the Rufous-sided Crake (Laterallus melanophaius), although most modern commentators have preferred to retain them as separate species, and indeed the present species might prove to be more closely related to Gray-breasted Crake (Laterallus exilis).

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

Species Account

The red-knobbed coot or crested coot, (Fulica cristata), is a member of the rail and crake bird family, the Rallidae.

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

BirdLife Species Account

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Fulica cristata J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Madagascar. Closely related to F. atra, F. alai, F. americana, F. leucoptera and F. ardesiaca. Monotypic.

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Clapper Rail Rallus crepitans

IUCN Species Status

Clapper Rail Rallus crepitans

BirdLife Species Account

Clapper Rail Rallus crepitans

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus crepitans J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Long Island, New York.

Clapper Rail Rallus crepitans

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Common Coot Fulica atra

Species Account

The Eurasian Coot is recognised by its snowy white bill and forehead shield. The remainder of the bird is dark sooty grey, except for its bright red eye. Immature birds are generally paler than adults with a white wash on the throat. Nestlings are downy, black with fine yellow tips. The head is orange-red and the bill is red with a cream-white tip.

Common Coot Fulica atra

IUCN Species Status

Common Coot Fulica atra

BirdLife Species Account

Common Coot Fulica atra

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Fulica atra Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden. Closely related to F. cristata, F. alai, F. americana, F. leucoptera and F. ardesiaca. Described form langkensis (from Sri Lanka) included in nominate race; anggiensis (from Arfak Mts, in NW New Guinea) regarded as a synonym of lugubris. Four subspecies recognized.

Common Coot Fulica atra

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

IUCN Species Status

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Fulica Chloropus Linnaeus, 1758, England.

Giant Wood-Rail Aramides ypecaha

Cornell Species Account

The Giant Wood-rail is a large, terrestrial rail of south Brazil and Uruguay, eastern Paraguay, and northeast Argentina.

Giant Wood-Rail Aramides ypecaha

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Giant Wood-Rail Aramides ypecaha

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus ypecaha Vieillot, 1819, Paraguay. Monotypic.

Corncrake Crex crex

Species Account

The corn crake, corncrake or landrail (Crex crex) is a bird in the rail family. It breeds in Europe and Asia as far east as western China, and migrates to Africa for the northern hemisphere's winter. It is a medium-sized crake with buff- or grey-streaked brownish-black upperparts, chestnut markings on the wings, and blue-grey underparts with rust-coloured and white bars on the flanks and undertail.

Corncrake Crex crex

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Corncrake Crex crex

BirdLife Species Account

Corncrake Crex crex

IUCN Species Status

Corncrake Crex crex

HBW Species Account

Grey-breasted Crake Laterallus exilis

Species Account

The grey-breasted crake (Laterallus exilis) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is found in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are swamps and pastureland.

Grey-breasted Crake Laterallus exilis

Cornell Species Account

The Gray-breasted Crake is widespread in Central and South America from southern Mexico to southeast Brazil. It occurs in a wide variety of marshy vegetation along riverbanks, lake edges and west grassy habitat.

Grey-breasted Crake Laterallus exilis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Grey-breasted Crake Laterallus exilis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus exilis Temminck, 1831, Cayenne, French Guiana. Proposed race vagans (from E Honduras–N Nicaragua border) considered invalid. Monotypic.

King Rail Rallus elegans

Cornell Species Account

A large rail of freshwater marshes, the King Rail has declined alarmingly in much of its range over the last 40 years.

King Rail Rallus elegans

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

King Rail Rallus elegans

BirdLife Species Account

King Rail Rallus elegans

IUCN Species Status

King Rail Rallus elegans

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus elegans Audubon, 1834, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata

BirdLife Species Account

Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata

Species Account

The lesser moorhen (Gallinula angulata) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae.

Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata

IUCN Species Status

Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Mangrove Rail Rallus longirostris

IUCN Species Status

Mangrove Rail Rallus longirostris

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Mangrove Rail Rallus longirostris

Species Account

The mangrove rail (Rallus longirostris) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is found in South America. It was formerly considered conspecific with the clapper rail (Rallus crepitans).[

Little Crake Porzana parva

BirdLife Species Account

Little Crake Porzana parva

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Lord Howe Woodhen Gallirallus sylvestris

BirdLife Species Account

Lord Howe Woodhen Gallirallus sylvestris

IUCN Species Status

Lord Howe Woodhen Gallirallus sylvestris

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Ocydromus sylvestris P. L. Sclater, 1870, Lord Howe Island. Sometimes placed in Tricholimnas, Gallirallus or Rallus. Includes H. (Tricholimnas) conditicius, known from one specimen and sometimes thought to be a distinct species, but now generally regarded as an immature of present species. Monotypic.

Lord Howe Woodhen Gallirallus sylvestris

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

BirdLife Species Account

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

IUCN Species Status

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

Species Account

The plumbeous rail (Pardirallus sanguinolentus) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, and is a vagrant to the Falkland Islands. Its natural habitat is swamps.

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

Cornell Species Account

The Plumbeous Rail is the most widespread rail in the southern half of South America. It is found as far north as southern Ecuador, but reaches all the way south to Tierra del Fuego, making it also the southernmost of the continent’s rails.

Australasian Swamphen (Pukeko) Porphyrio melanotus

Species Account

The Australasian swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) is a species of swamphen occurring in eastern Indonesia, the Moluccas, Aru and Kai Islands, as well as in Papua New Guinea and Australia. It is also found in New Zealand, where it is known as the pūkeko, a term derived from the Māori language. The Australasian swamphen used to be considered a subspecies of the purple swamphen.

Australasian Swamphen (Pukeko) Porphyrio melanotus

Species Account

The Purple Swamphen is a large rail. It is mainly dusky black above, with a broad dark blue collar, and dark blue to purple below. As the Purple Swamphen walks, it flicks its tail up and down, revealing its white undertail. The bill is red and robust, and the legs and feet orange-red.

American Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica

Cornell Species Account

A beautifully colored bird of southern and tropical wetlands, the Purple Gallinule can be see walking on top of floating vegetation or clambering through dense shrubs. Its extremely long toes help it walk on lily pads without sinking.

American Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica

IUCN Species Status

Ruddy Crake Laterallus ruber

Species Account

The ruddy crake (Laterallus ruber) is a bird in the rail family, Rallidae.

Ruddy Crake Laterallus ruber

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Ruddy Crake Laterallus ruber

Cornell Species Account

The Ruddy Crake (sometimes known as the Red Rail) is one of the most northerly members of its genus. It occurs along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Central America from Costa Rica north to Guerrero in southwestern Mexico and Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico.

Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca

Species Account

The ruddy-breasted crake (Porzana fusca), or ruddy crake, is a waterbird in the rail and crake family Rallidae.

Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca

IUCN Species Status

Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus fuscus Linnaeus, 1766, Philippines. Previously included in expanded genus Porzana; sometimes placed in Amaurornis. Race zeylonica sometimes synonymized with nominate. Five subspecies recognized.

Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius

Species Account

The rufous-sided crake (Laterallus melanophaius) is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Its natural habitat is swamps.

Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius

Cornell Species Account

The Rufous-sided Crake is a small, slender rail whose range encompasses most of the South American continent.

Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus melanophaius Vieillot, 1819, Paraguay. Sometimes considered to include L. albigularis. Proposed race lateralis (from the Guianas and NE Brazil) regarded as a synonym of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus

BirdLife Species Account

Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus

HBW Species Account

Sora Rail Porzana carolinus

IUCN Species Status

Sora Rail Porzana carolinus

BirdLife Species Account

Sora Rail Porzana carolinus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

Species Account

The spotted crake (Porzana porzana) is a small waterbird of the family Rallidae. The scientific name is derived from Venetian terms for small rails.

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

BirdLife Species Account

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

IUCN Species Status

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

RSPB Species Account

The spotted crake is only the size of a starling. Breeding adults have a brown back with dark streaks, a blue-grey face and an olive-brown breast - all covered with white flecks and spots.

Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis

IUCN Species Status

Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis

HBW Species Account

axonomy: Rallus tabuensis J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Tongatapu Group, Tonga. Previously placed in genus Porzana. Closely related to Z. atra and †Z. monasa. Geographical variation slight, and validity of subspecies requires confirmation. Possible race plumbea (of S Australia and New Zealand) included in nominate tabuensis; various other proposed races (filipina, immaculata, oliveri, caledonica, vitiensis, tenebrosa) likewise synonymized with nominate. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

BirdLife Species Account

Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

IUCN Species Status

Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

HBW Family Account

Taxonomy: Porzana marginalis Hartlaub, 1857, Gabon. Often retained in Porzana on basis of plumage characters, but differs in skull structure and in having longer legs and toes. Sometimes separated in genus Aenigmatolimnas. Monotypic.

South Island Takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri

Species Account

The takahē, Notornis, or South Island takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri), is a flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand and belonging to the rail family. It was thought to be extinct after the last four known specimens were taken in 1898. However, after a carefully planned search effort the bird was rediscovered by Geoffrey Orbell near Lake Te Anau in the Murchison Mountains, South Island, on 20 November 1948. The specific scientific name commemorates the Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter.

South Island Takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri

IUCN Species Status

South Island Takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Notornis Hochstetteri A. B. Meyer, 1883, Bare-patch Plains, east of Lake Te Anau, South Island, New Zealand.

South Island Takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Tasmanian Native-Hen Gallinula mortierii

IUCN Species Status

Tasmanian Native-Hen Gallinula mortierii

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Tribonyx mortierii Du Bus de Gisignies, 1840, Tasmania. Monotypic.

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

BirdLife Species Account

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus limicola Vieillot, 1819, Pennsylvania, USA. Thought to be closely related to R. semiplumbeus and R. antarcticus; latter sometimes considered a race of present species. South American form aequatorialis often treated as a separate species (with meyerdeschauenseei as a subspecies). Proposed W USA race zetarius (of which pacificus is a synonym) is included in nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

BirdLife Species Account

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

HBW Species Account

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

IUCN Species Status

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Weka Gallirallus australis

BirdLife Species Account

Weka Gallirallus australis

Species Account

The weka is one of New Zealand’s iconic large flightless birds. Likely derived from a flighted ancestor, weka are 3-6 times larger than banded rails, which are considered their nearest flying relatives.

Weka Gallirallus australis

IUCN Species Status

Weka Gallirallus australis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Rallus australis Sparrman, 1786, Dusky Sound, South Island, New Zealand. Includes described form G. troglodytes, now regarded as a black morph of present species. Considerable geographical variation, with up to eight races accepted in the past; situation complicated by extensive individual variation, especially in nominate race and scotti. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Weka Gallirallus australis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

BirdLife Species Account

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

IUCN Species Status

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Fulica Porphyrio Linnaeus, 1758, Asia, America (= lands bordering the western Mediterranean Sea).

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

IUCN Species Status

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

BirdLife Species Account

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Gallinula phoenicurus Pennant, 1769, Sri Lanka.

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea

IUCN Species Status

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea

HBW Species Account

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea

Cornell Species Account

The Gray-necked Wood-Rail is a large Rallid distributed from Argentina north to Mexico. It is usually secretive but occasionally roams in the open near the edges of wetlands or mangroves.

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution maps.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 134

Useful Reading

Rails

A Guide to the Rails, Crakes, Gallinules and Coots of the World by Barry Taylor and Ber van Perlo - Pica Press 1998

ISBN: 1873403593

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

BirdLife International - Corncrake Conservation Team

Website

International conservation efforts for Corncrake Crex crex… Fifth meeting of the Corncrake Conservation Team 2015

Photographers & Artists

Australian Crake Porzana fluminea

Gallery

Excellent image

Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis

Gallery

Excellent image

Baillons Crake Porzana pusilla

Gallery

Vintage images…

Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans

Gallery

Buff-spotted Flufftails photographed at their nest in the garden of Don and Gill Lietch at Melmoth…

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Gallery

[slightly over-exposed] image

Common Coot Fulica atra

Gallery

Excellent Image

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra

Video

Excellent images

Okinawa Rail Gallirallus okinawae

Gallery

Excellent Image

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Gallery

Several images

European Crakes

Gallery

Photographs of some European crakes…

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea

Gallery

Terrific image

White-winged Coot Fulica leucoptera

Gallery

Image

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

Gallery

Excellent image

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

Gallery

Image & notes

Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca

Handbook of the Birds of the World

Images, account, links etc…

Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides

Gallery

Very good image