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Rail (bird)

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Rails and Crakes
European Coot
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae

The Rails and Crakes are a group of small birds mainly associated with wetlands, although the Corncrake [?] breeds on farmland. They are omnivorous, and migrate at night: most nest in dense vegetation.

They will run and walk on strong legs and big toes, but appear weak fliers on round wings. Island species often become flightless.

Many reed bed species are secretive, apart from loud calls, and crepuscular, and have laterally flattened bodies. In the Old World, long billed species tend to be called “rails” and short billed species “crakes”. American species are normally called rails irrespective of bill length.

The larger species are also sometimes given other names. The black coots are more open water than their relatives, and some other large species are called gallinules.


Traditionally the rails and crakes in the order Rallidae have been grouped with two families of large birds, the cranes and the bustards in the order Gruiformes . The new Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy which has been widely accepted in America, raises this family to order level as the Galliformes.

New research suggests that the ducks and gallinaceous birds are each other's closest relatives and together form the basal lineage of neognathous birds. The ratites and tinamous will now be followed by the ducks and their allies, and then the rails and crakes.


The relationships with similar groups are shown below:


Species list

Family: Rallidae

  • White-spotted Flufftail, Sarothrura pulchra
  • Buff-spotted Flufftail, Sarothrura elegans
  • Red-chested Flufftail, Sarothrura rufa
  • Chestnut-headed Flufftail, Sarothrura lugens
  • Streaky-breasted Flufftail, Sarothrura boehmi
  • Striped Flufftail, Sarothrura affinis
  • Madagascar Flufftail, Sarothrura insularis
  • White-winged Flufftail, Sarothrura ayresi
  • Slender-billed Flufftail, Sarothrura watersi

  • Nkulengu Rail, Himantornis haematopus

  • Grey-throated Rail, Canirallus oculeus
  • Madagascar Wood-Rail, Canirallus kioloides

  • Swinhoe's Rail, Coturnicops exquisitus
  • Yellow Rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis
  • Speckled Rail, Coturnicops notatus

  • Ocellated Crake, Micropygia schomburgkii

  • Chestnut Forest-Rail, Rallina rubra
  • White-striped Forest-Rail, Rallina leucospila
  • Forbes's Forest-rail, Rallina forbesi
  • Mayr's Forest-rail, Rallina mayri
  • Red-necked Crake, Rallina tricolor
  • Andaman Crake, Rallina canningi
  • Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata
  • Slaty-legged Crake, Rallina eurizonoides

  • Chestnut-headed Crake, Anurolimnas castaneiceps
  • Russet-crowned Crake, Anurolimnas viridis
  • Black-banded Crake, Anurolimnas fasciatus

  • Rufous-sided Crake, Laterallus melanophaius
  • Rusty-flanked Crake, Laterallus levraudi
  • Ruddy Crake, Laterallus ruber
  • White-throated Crake, Laterallus albigularis
  • Grey-breasted Crake, Laterallus exilis
  • Black Rail, Laterallus jamaicensis
  • Galapagos Rail, Laterallus spilonotus
  • Red-and-white Crake, Laterallus leucopyrrhus
  • Rufous-faced Crake, Laterallus xenopterus

  • Woodford's Rail, Nesoclopeus woodfordi
  • Bar-winged Rail, Nesoclopeus poecilopterus

  • Weka[?], Gallirallus australis
  • New Caledonian Rail, Gallirallus lafresnayanus
  • Lord Howe Rail, Gallirallus sylvestris
  • Okinawa Rail, Gallirallus okinawae
  • Barred Rail, Gallirallus torquatus
  • New Britain Rail, Gallirallus insignis
  • Buff-banded Rail, Gallirallus philippensis
  • Guam Rail, Gallirallus owstoni
  • Roviana Rail, Gallirallus rovianae
  • Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus

  • Clapper Rail, Rallus longirostris
  • King Rail, Rallus elegans
  • Plain-flanked Rail, Rallus wetmorei
  • Virginia Rail, Rallus limicola
  • Bogota Rail, Rallus semiplumbeus
  • Austral Rail, Rallus antarcticus
  • Water Rail[?], Rallus aquaticus
  • African Rail, Rallus caerulescens
  • Madagascar Rail, Rallus madagascariensis
  • Brown-banded Rail, Rallus mirificus
  • Lewin's Rail, Rallus pectoralis

  • Auckland Rail, Lewinia muelleri

  • White-throated Rail, Dryolimnas cuvieri

  • Rouget's Rail, Rougetius rougetii

  • Snoring Rail, Aramidopsis plateni

  • Inaccessible Rail, Atlantisia rogersi

  • Little Wood-Rail, Aramides mangle
  • Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Aramides axillaris
  • Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Aramides cajanea
  • Brown Wood-Rail, Aramides wolfi
  • Giant Wood-Rail, Aramides ypecaha
  • Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Aramides saracura
  • Red-winged Wood-Rail, Aramides calopterus

  • Uniform Crake, Amaurolimnas concolor

  • Bald-faced Rail, Gymnocrex rosenbergii
  • Bare-eyed Rail, Gymnocrex plumbeiventris

  • Brown Crake, Amaurornis akool
  • Isabelline Bush-hen, Amaurornis isabellinus
  • Plain Bush-hen, Amaurornis olivaceus
  • Rufous-tailed Bush-hen, Amaurornis moluccanus
  • White-breasted Waterhen[?], Amaurornis phoenicurus
  • Talaud Bush-hen, Amaurornis magnirostris
  • Black Crake, Amaurornis flavirostris
  • Sakalava Rail, Amaurornis olivieri
  • Black-tailed Crake, Amaurornis bicolor

  • Little Crake[?], Porzana parva
  • Baillon's Crake, Porzana pusilla
  • Spotted Crake, Porzana porzana
  • Australian Crake, Porzana fluminea
  • Sora[?], Porzana carolina
  • Dot-winged Crake, Porzana spiloptera
  • Ash-throated Crake, Porzana albicollis
  • Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca
  • Band-bellied Crake, Porzana paykullii
  • Spotless Crake, Porzana tabuensis
  • Henderson Island Crake, Porzana atra
  • Yellow-breasted Crake, Porzana flaviventer
  • White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea

  • Striped Crake, Aenigmatolimnas marginalis

  • Zapata Rail, Cyanolimnas cerverai

  • Colombian Crake, Neocrex colombianus
  • Paint-billed Crake, Neocrex erythrops

  • Spotted Rail, Pardirallus maculatus
  • Blackish Rail, Pardirallus nigricans
  • Plumbeous Rail, Pardirallus sanguinolentus

  • Chestnut Rail, Eulabeornis castaneoventris

  • Invisible Rail, Habroptila wallacii

  • New Guinea Flightless Rail, Megacrex inepta

  • Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea

  • Purple Swamphen[?], Porphyrio porphyrio
  • Takahe, Porphyrio mantelli
  • Allen's Gallinule, Porphyrio alleni

  • Purple Gallinule, Porphyrula martinica
  • Azure Gallinule, Porphyrula flavirostris

  • San Cristobal Moorhen, Gallinula silvestris
  • Tristan Moorhen, Gallinula nesiotis
  • Common Moorhen[?], Gallinula chloropus
  • Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa
  • Lesser Moorhen, Gallinula angulata
  • Spot-flanked Gallinule, Gallinula melanops
  • Black-tailed Native-hen, Gallinula ventralis
  • Tasmanian Native-hen, Gallinula mortierii

  • Red-knobbed Coot, Fulica cristata
  • Common Coot[?], Fulica atra
  • Hawaiian Coot, Fulica alai
  • American Coot, Fulica americana
  • Caribbean Coot, Fulica caribaea
  • White-winged Coot, Fulica leucoptera
  • Andean Coot, Fulica ardesiaca
  • Red-gartered Coot, Fulica armillata
  • Red-fronted Coot, Fulica rufifrons
  • Giant Coot, Fulica gigantea
  • Horned Coot Fulica cornuta

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