Ridgway's Rail

Rallus obsoletus




Rails, Gallinules and Coots (Rallidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff with purple spots.

Number of Eggs:

4 - 14

Incubation Days:

18 - 29

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Marsh vegetation.





Ridgway's Rail: A medium sized bird with a long, slightly decurved slender bill with gray-brown upperparts and a rufous breast. Upperwing-coverts are mostly gray, with buff-brown and dark streaks. It has an olive morph where the upperparts have darker, black centers and duller, more olive fringes. Sexes are similar. Juvenile is much darker than the adult, with indistinct flank barring. In 2014 American Ornithologist Union split the Clapper Rail into three species, the Clapper Rail, Ridgway's Rail and Mangrove Rail (not in North America).

Range and Habitat

Ridgway's Rail: Found mostly in California's San Francisco Bay to southern Baja California. Also occur along the northwestern coast of Mexico and the Colorado River basin of southern Arizona. Resides in marshes with tall grasses. They prefer mudflats and higher vegetation zones in tidal sloughs.

Breeding and Nesting

Ridgway's Rail: Four to fourteen eggs laid in a platform or a cup of sedges, rushes or other marsh vegetation, placed on the ground.

Foraging and Feeding

Ridgway's rail: Feeds mainly on mussels, clams, snails, small fish, arthropods and snails; forages in tidal sloughs, between mudflats and higher, vegetated zones.


Ridgway's Rail: Male's courting call is a series of harsh “kek”. The male also has a grunting call and very low “hoo”. During breeding, the female makes 1–5 “kek” notes followed by “burr”. Both sexes advertise with a series of loud, fast "kak" sounds.

Similar Species

Ridgway's Rail: Clapper Rail has gray or brown upperparts, vertical white-barred flanks and belly, and buff or rust-brown breast. Bill is long and slightly decurved. Eastern population has buff underparts. Juvenile is more uniformly colored.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
The lateral area posterior to the side of the bird’s body that extends back to the base of the tail.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X