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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

King Rail

Rallus elegans ORDER: GRUIFORMES FAMILY: RALLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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

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Appearance

Shorebirdlike
Shorebirdlike
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized, chicken-like marsh bird.
  • Compact body.
  • Short tail.
  • Strong legs.
  • Long, slightly down-curved bill.
  • Reddish chest, neck, and back.
  • Black-and-white stripes on flanks.

Immature Description

Downy chick black. Juvenile similar to adult, but markings indistinct and with variable amount of black on sides.

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King Rail Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    King Rail

    Adult
    • © L.B.Wales / CLO
  • Adult calling

    King Rail

    Adult calling
    • Large rail with bright rufous-orange neck and breast
    • Black and white striped belly
    • Black and tan striped back
    • © Marshall Iliff, Belle Isle Marsh, Boston, Massachusetts, June 2011

Similar Species

  • Clapper Rail is very similar, but generally is more grayish, has gray face, and less distinct flank stripes.
  • Virginia Rail is smaller, has gray face, and brighter colored bill.