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Yellow Rail Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A very small chickenlike marsh bird with rather long legs for its size, short neck, small head, and short, blunt bill.

    Relative Size

    Slightly larger than a Black Rail, smaller than a Sora.

    Relative Sizerobin sizedrobin-sized

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 5.1-7.1 in (13-18 cm)
      • Weight: 1.4-2.4 oz (41-68 g)
      • Wingspan: 11.0-12.6 in (28-32 cm)

Regional Differences

Ornithologists recognize two subspecies: noveboracensis of the United States and Canada and goldmani of the state of México, Mexico, which has a richer brown and white pattern above (but may be extinct).