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Water Rail

From Opus

Rallus aquaticus


[edit] Identification

Photo © by angletarnBrandon Marsh, Warwickshire, October 2009
Photo © by angletarn
Brandon Marsh, Warwickshire, October 2009

25–28 cm (9¾-11 in)
Upperparts olive-brown with broad, black streaks, grey face, breast and flanks, black-and-white barring on rear flanks, and greyish supercilium.

[edit] Similar species

Brown-cheeked Rail is very similar, differing in browner, less grey cheeks and flanks; it can usually be separated on range, but overlaps locally with Water Rail on their wintering grounds in southern Asia. Young juvenile Common Moorhen is sometimes mistaken for Water Rail by novice birders.

[edit] Distribution

Breeds throughout most of Europe except for the northern half of Scandinavia; also western and central Asia, and northernmost Africa. Western and southern populations are resident, while northeastern birds are migratory. Winters mostly within the southern and western half of the breeding range but also more widely in north Africa and southwestern Asia, and a few reaching east to India and southeastern China.

[edit] Taxonomy

Brown-cheeked Rail used to be included in this species as a subspecies1.

[edit] Subspecies

There are three subspecies1, 2:

  • R. a. hibernans - formerly bred Iceland, wintered Iceland (around thermal springs) and Ireland; extinct c.1965 due to habitat loss and introduced American Mink1.
  • R. a. aquaticus - Western Palearctic
  • R. a. korejewi - Iran to north-western China; winters to India and southern China

[edit] Habitat

Reedbeds, marshes, etc.

[edit] Behaviour

A skulker, this bird is much more often located by its piglet-like squeals. Food includes both invertebrates and plant materials like seeds.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Tavares, E. L. et al. (2010). Phylogenetic and coalescent analysis of three loci suggest that the Water Rail is divisible into two species, Rallus aquaticus and R. indicus. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 226.
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from

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