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Ridgway's Rail

Rallus obsoletus ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Ridgway's Rail is a handsome gray-and-rusty bird that lives most of its life concealed in dense vegetation. It uses its formidable bill to probe into muddy wetlands for invertebrate prey. It lives in saltwater marshes, freshwater marshes, and mangrove swamps in California, Arizona, Nevada, and coastal western Mexico. Populations are declining largely due to wetland loss and degradation, and the species is listed in the U.S. as federally endangered. This species and Clapper Rail were considered the same species (along with Mangrove Rail) until 2014.

Appearance

Shorebirdlike
Shorebirdlike
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized, chicken-like marsh bird.
  • Compact body.
  • Short, squared tail.
  • Strong legs.
  • Long, slightly down-curved, strong bill.
  • Rounded wings.
  • Gray or reddish; considerable variation in plumage color within many subspecies.
  • Dull stripes on flanks.
  • Males average larger in size and mass than females, but the sexes are alike in plumage.

Immature Description

Downy chick black, with pied bill. Juvenile similar to adult, but marking indistinct and with variable amount of black on sides.

Range Map Help

Ridgway
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Similar Species

Similar Species

Clapper Rail of eastern North America is very similar and was considered the same species until 2014. Range does not overlap with Ridgway's Rail. King Rail is very similar, but generally is more reddish, face more rusty, and flank stripes more distinct. Virginia Rail is smaller, is bright reddish, and has brighter colored bill, and distinctly gray cheeks and face.

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