Rallus limicola
(Virginia Rail)

Order: Gruiformes
Order Description: Rails, Coots, Cranes
Family: Rallidae
Family Description: Rails and Coots

Physical Description:
8 1/2-10 1/2" (22-27 cm). Colorfully camouflaged. Cinnamon wings, breast, and neck; back cinnamon with black mottling; darker brown-black and white barred flanksClick word for definition. Gray cheeks and red eyes. Long, slender, orange bill slightly downcurved. Immatures are darker with more black.

Similar Species- Clapper Rail, Sora, Yellow Rail, Black Rail

Calls include grunts, squeaks, and rapidly descending notes: Wak-wak-wak.

Breeds locally from southern British Columbia to Newfoundland, and south to northwestern Baja California, southern Arizona, west-central Texas, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, central Mexico, and South America. Winters from southern British Columbia to northern Baja California, and north to Gulf Coast and North Carolina.

Found in freshwater (occasionally brackishClick word for definition) marshes, mostly in cattails, reeds, and deep grasses.

Eats insects and other invertebrates, seeds of aquatic plants, and duckweed.

Builds nest in vegetation, usually in dry area, but occasionally over mud or water. Probes into mud with bill.

Lays clutchClick word for definition of 5-12 eggs (from April to June on West Coast, May to June or July in central and middle Atlantic and northern states). Incubation lasts about 20 days. Both sexes incubateClick word for definition eggs and tend young, which leave nest soon after hatching.

Element Code: ABNME05030
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
No references are available at this time.

Photo by Marcus Martin,© 1999
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.