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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Black Rail

Laterallus jamaicensis ORDER: GRUIFORMES FAMILY: RALLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Black Rail Photo

The smallest rail in North America, the Black Rail is perhaps the most secretive too. This small denizen of shallow salt and freshwater marshes is rarely seen and its distinctive "kick-ee-doo" call is heard primarily at night.

Merlin Bird ID app
BNA ML combo package

Appearance

Shorebirdlike
Shorebirdlike
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small marshbird.
  • Difficult to see; runs under vegetation.
  • Blackish.
  • Black bill.

Immature Description

Similar to adult, but duller and with less distinct spotting and streaking.

Range Map Help

Black Rail Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

  • All young rails are black and may be similar in size to the Black Rail. Young rails are downy, generally do not have black bills, and lack the white back spotting and chestnut nape.