Black Rail

Laterallus jamaicensis

Order

GRUIFORMES

Family

Rails, Gallinules and Coots (Rallidae)

Code 4

BLRA

Code 6

LATJAM

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Near Threatened

The Black Rail has a fairly large estimated range of 542,000 square kilometers. This includes saline marshes, and dense wet meadows in parts of the eastern United States, Kansas, Colorado, western Arizona, California, Hispaniola, and scattered sites in Central America, Peru, and Chile. This species appears to have declined in many areas because of habitat degradation and destruction. It has an estimated population of 25,000-100,000 individuals that is believed to be in decline. Because of these threats, the conservation rating of the Black Rail is Near Threatened.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Black Rail: Smallest North American rail, mostly dark gray or nearly black with white-speckled back, belly, flanks. Nape and upper back are chestnut-brown. Eyes are red. Eats seeds of aquatic plants, grasses and grains, insects and small marine crustaceans. Weak fluttering flight with legs dangling.

 

Range and Habitat

Black Rail: Nests on marshes and open grasslands from southern New England along the Atlantic coast to the Gulf coast states and also the coast of California. Scattered distribution inland. Spends winters from the southern Atlantic coast states south to Central America. Preferred habitats include marshes, swamps, and wet meadows.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"kic-kee-doo", "kic-kic-kerr"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Measuring only about the size of a sparrow, they are the smallest North American rail.
  • The Black Rail is extinct or threatened in many locations due to habitat loss. The largest populations in North America are in Florida and California.
  • The name rail is derived from the Latin verb "raelare," which means "to scrape" and is a good description of one of the bird's vocalizations.
  • A group of rails are collectively known as a "hill" and a "rumor" of rails.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
NapeX
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X