Virginia Rail

The Virginia Rail, Rallus limicola, is a small waterbird, of the family Rallidae.



Adults are mainly brown, darker on the back and crown, with orange-brown legs. They have long toes, a short tail and a long slim reddish bill. Their cheeks are grey, with a light stripe over the eye and a whitish throat.


Distribution / Habitat:

Their breeding habitat is marshes from Nova Scotia to California and North Carolina, also in Central America and South America. The female lays 5 to 13 eggs in a platform built from cattails and other plants in a dry location in the marsh. Both parents care for the young, who are able to fly in less than a month.

Northern populations migrate to the southern United States and Central America. On the Pacific coast, some are permanent residents.


Virginia Rail - Immature

Diet / Feeding:

These birds probe with their bill in mud or shallow water, also picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and aquatic animals.


Call / Song:

This bird have a number of calls, including a harsh kuk kuk kuk, usually heard at night.



These birds remain fairly common despite continuing loss of habitat, but are secretive by nature and more often heard than seen.


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