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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.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
3.9–5.9 in
10–15 cm
Wingspan
8.7–11 in
22–28 cm
Weight
1 oz
29 g
Other Names
  • Rale noir (French)
  • Gallinetia negra, Pidencillo, Polluela negra, Burrito negruzco, Gallinetita rayas blancas, Taquita de salinas, Gallinuelita prieta (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Black Rail uses areas with shallower water than other North American rails.

Habitat


Marsh

Nests in high portions of salt marshes, shallow freshwater marshes, wet meadows, and flooded grassy vegetation.

Food


Insects

Small invertebrates and seeds.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Egg Description
Creamy white with fine brown spots.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with black down, leave nest within one day. Fed by parents.
Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Probing

Conservation

status via IUCN

Near Threatened

It is difficult to estimate populations of Black Rail, but some populations appear to be declining. This species is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan rates them a 16.5 out of 20 in the Continental Concern Score, and lists them as a Species of Highest Concern. Black Rail are considered Endangered in Arizona and Threatened in California.

Credits

Range Map Help

Black Rail Range Map
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