Bird Family: Rallidae (Rails)

Total species: 159

The family Rallidae are those mysterious birds that birders like myself fail to find all too often. They look sort of like chickens and their most typical habitats are near the water’s edge.

Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail in its natural state: trying to hide

Rails are prone to being endangered for a few reasons. There are quite a few island species for one, and these island species have often evolved to become flightless. Of course, another reason that rails are often threatened is that they like marshes and water in general. Birds that like water are often threatened due to such land being converted for human purposes.

Some rails have already gone extinct due to introduced species. But there are also some rather lucky rail species. For example, the Guam Rail went extinct due to the introduction of the Brown Tree Snake at one point. There were still captive populations, and an intense captive breeding program was established. Eventually, a wild-breeding population came back via this program.

Although the Australian Swamphen is not endangered, many other members of Rallidae are

Other rails may go extinct soon, like the Sakalava Rail, which is thought to have a population of just a few hundred. It’s only range is in Madagascar, which isn’t very hopeful for these species since Madagascar does not have ideal conservation policies. In this case, this rail is threatened by habitat loss. Still other species like the Samoan Moorhen and the Makira Moorhen are classified as critically endangered and may even be extinct!

Even when not flightless, rails don’t like flying much, which might explain why they so rapidly become flightless.


  1. Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus)
  2. Aztec Rail (Rallus tenuirostris)
  3. Mangrove Rail (Rallus longirostris)
  4. King Rail (Rallus elegans)
  5. Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans)
  6. Plain-flanked Rail (Rallus wetmorei)
  7. Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)
  8. Bogota Rail (Rallus semiplumbeus)
  9. Austral Rail (Rallus antarcticus)
  10. Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
  11. Brown-cheeked Rail (Rallus indicus)
  12. African Rail (Rallus caerulescens)
  13. Madagascar Rail (Rallus madagascariensis)
  14. White-throated Rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri)
  15. Reunion Rail (Dryolimnas augusti)
  16. Red Rail (Aphanapteryx bonasia)
  17. Rodrigues Rail (Erythromachus leguati)
  18. Corn Crake (Crex crex)
  19. African Crake (Crex egregia)
  20. Rouget’s Rail (Rougetius rougetii)
  21. Inaccessible Island Rail (Atlantisia rogersi)
  22. St. Helena Crake (Atlantisia podarces)
  23. Ascension Crake (Mundia elpenor)
  24. Snoring Rail (Aramidopsis plateni)
  25. Slaty-breasted Rail (Lewinia striata)
  26. Luzon Rail (Lewinia mirifica)
  27. Lewin’s Rail (Lewinia pectoralis)
  28. Auckland Islands Rail (Lewinia muelleri)
  29. Blue-faced Rail (Gymnocrex rosenbergii)
  30. Bare-eyed Rail (Gymnocrex plumbeiventris)
  31. Talaud Rail (Gymnocrex talaudensis)
  32. Hawkins’s Rail (Diaphorapteryx hawkinsi)
  33. Calayan Rail (Gallirallus calayanensis)
  34. Invisible Rail (Gallirallus wallacii)
  35. Chestnut Rail (Gallirallus castaneoventris)
  36. Weka (Gallirallus australis)
  37. New Caledonian Rail (Gallirallus lafresnayanus)
  38. Lord Howe Rail (Gallirallus sylvestris)
  39. Okinawa Rail (Gallirallus okinawae)
  40. Tahiti Rail (Gallirallus pacificus)
  41. Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis)
  42. Chatham Islands Rail (Gallirallus modestus)
  43. Dieffenbach’s Rail (Gallirallus dieffenbachii)
  44. New Britain Rail (Gallirallus insignis)
  45. Woodford’s Rail (Gallirallus woodfordi)
  46. Bar-winged Rail (Gallirallus poecilopterus)
  47. Guam Rail (Gallirallus owstoni)
  48. Wake Island Rail (Gallirallus wakensis)
  49. Barred Rail (Gallirallus torquatus)
  50. Roviana Rail (Gallirallus rovianae)
  51. Gray-throated Rail (Canirallus oculeus)
  52. Ash-throated Crake (Mustelirallus albicollis)
  53. Colombian Crake (Mustelirallus colombianus)
  54. Paint-billed Crake (Mustelirallus erythrops)
  55. Zapata Rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai)
  56. Spotted Rail (Pardirallus maculatus)
  57. Blackish Rail (Pardirallus nigricans)
  58. Plumbeous Rail (Pardirallus sanguinolentus)
  59. Uniform Crake (Amaurolimnas concolor)
  60. Giant Wood-Rail (Aramides ypecaha)
  61. Brown Wood-Rail (Aramides wolfi)
  62. Little Wood-Rail (Aramides mangle)
  63. Rufous-necked Wood-Rail (Aramides axillaris)
  64. Russet-naped Wood-Rail (Aramides albiventris)
  65. Gray-cowled Wood-Rail (Aramides cajaneus)
  66. Red-winged Wood-Rail (Aramides calopterus)
  67. Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail (Aramides saracura)
  68. Black-tailed Nativehen (Tribonyx ventralis)
  69. Hodgen’s Waterhen (Tribonyx hodgenorum)
  70. Tasmanian Nativehen (Tribonyx mortierii)
  71. Spot-flanked Gallinule (Porphyriops melanops)
  72. Sora (Porzana carolina)
  73. Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
  74. Australian Crake (Porzana fluminea)
  75. Dot-winged Crake (Porzana spiloptera)
  76. Lesser Moorhen (Paragallinula angulata)
  77. Makira Moorhen (Gallinula silvestris)
  78. Tristan Moorhen (Gallinula nesiotis)
  79. Gough Moorhen (Gallinula comeri)
  80. Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
  81. Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)
  82. Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
  83. Samoan Moorhen (Gallinula pacifica)
  84. Red-fronted Coot (Fulica rufifrons)
  85. Horned Coot (Fulica cornuta)
  86. Giant Coot (Fulica gigantea)
  87. Red-gartered Coot (Fulica armillata)
  88. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
  89. Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
  90. Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata)
  91. Hawaiian Coot (Fulica alai)
  92. American Coot (Fulica americana)
  93. Slate-colored Coot (Fulica ardesiaca)
  94. White-winged Coot (Fulica leucoptera)
  95. Allen’s Gallinule (Porphyrio alleni)
  96. Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)
  97. Azure Gallinule (Porphyrio flavirostris)
  98. Marquesan Swamphen (Porphyrio paepae)
  99. New Caledonian Gallinule (Porphyrio kukwiedei)
  100. Reunion Gallinule (Porphyrio caerulescens)
  101. Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
  102. Black-backed Swamphen (Porphyrio indicus)
  103. African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)
  104. South Island Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri)
  105. North Island Takahe (Porphyrio mantelli)
  106. Australasian Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus)
  107. Philippine Swamphen (Porphyrio pulverulentus)
  108. Lord Howe Swamphen (Porphyrio albus)
  109. Gray-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus)
  110. Nkulengu Rail (Himantornis haematopus)
  111. White-browed Crake (Poliolimnas cinereus)
  112. New Guinea Flightless Rail (Megacrex inepta)
  113. Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea)
  114. Isabelline Bush-hen (Amaurornis isabellina)
  115. Plain Bush-hen (Amaurornis olivacea)
  116. White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
  117. Talaud Bush-hen (Amaurornis magnirostris)
  118. Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana)
  119. Striped Crake (Amaurornis marginalis)
  120. Chestnut Forest-Rail (Rallina rubra)
  121. White-striped Forest-Rail (Rallina leucospila)
  122. Forbes’s Rail (Rallina forbesi)
  123. Mayr’s Rail (Rallina mayri)
  124. Red-necked Crake (Rallina tricolor)
  125. Andaman Crake (Rallina canningi)
  126. Red-legged Crake (Rallina fasciata)
  127. Slaty-legged Crake (Rallina eurizonoides)
  128. Ruddy-breasted Crake (Zapornia fusca)
  129. Band-bellied Crake (Zapornia paykullii)
  130. Brown Crake (Zapornia akool)
  131. Black Crake (Zapornia flavirostra)
  132. Little Crake (Zapornia parva)
  133. Baillon’s Crake (Zapornia pusilla)
  134. St. Helena Rail (Zapornia astrictocarpus)
  135. Laysan Rail (Zapornia palmeri)
  136. Sakalava Rail (Zapornia olivieri)
  137. Black-tailed Crake (Zapornia bicolor)
  138. Hawaiian Rail (Zapornia sandwichensis)
  139. Miller’s Rail (Zapornia nigra)
  140. Henderson Island Crake (Zapornia atra)
  141. Spotless Crake (Zapornia tabuensis)
  142. Kosrae Crake (Zapornia monasa)
  143. Ocellated Crake (Micropygia schomburgkii)
  144. Chestnut-headed Crake (Anurolimnas castaneiceps)
  145. Russet-crowned Crake (Anurolimnas viridis)
  146. Black-banded Crake (Anurolimnas fasciatus)
  147. Swinhoe’s Rail (Coturnicops exquisitus)
  148. Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)
  149. Speckled Rail (Coturnicops notatus)
  150. Yellow-breasted Crake (Hapalocrex flaviventer)
  151. Rusty-flanked Crake (Laterallus levraudi)
  152. Rufous-sided Crake (Laterallus melanophaius)
  153. Ruddy Crake (Laterallus ruber)
  154. White-throated Crake (Laterallus albigularis)
  155. Gray-breasted Crake (Laterallus exilis)
  156. Galapagos Rail (Laterallus spilonota)
  157. Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis)
  158. Red-and-white Crake (Laterallus leucopyrrhus)
  159. Rufous-faced Crake (Laterallus xenopterus)

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