Black Rail Life History


Habitat MarshesNests in high portions of salt marshes, shallow freshwater marshes, wet meadows, and flooded grassy vegetation.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesSmall invertebrates and seeds.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

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.
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Behavior ProbingBack to top


Conservation Red Watch ListIt 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.Back to top


Eddleman, William R., R. E. Flores and M. Legare. 1994. Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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