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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Virginia Rail


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small, chicken-like marsh bird.
  • Compact body.
  • Short tail.
  • Strong legs.
  • Rufous throat and breast.
  • Gray cheeks.
  • Long, slightly curved red bill.

Immature Description

Downy chick black. Juvenile dull blackish brown on upperparts, with some rufous feather edges. Underparts densely marked with dark brown or blackish, face grayish brown, bill and legs dusky brownish.

Range Map Help

Virginia Rail Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult breeding

    Virginia Rail

    Adult breeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Patagonia Lake, Arizona, May 2000

Similar Species

  • Clapper Rail and King Rail similarly marked, but much larger, with paler legs and bill, and more rufous, not distinctly gray, cheeks.