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King Rail


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.


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.

Range Map Help

King Rail Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    King Rail

    • © 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.



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