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Ridgway's Rail

ID Info
  • Ridgway's Rail
  • Ridgway's Rail
  • Ridgway's Rail
Silhouette RailsRails
Ridgway's RailRallus obsoletus
  • ORDER: Gruiformes
  • FAMILY: Rallidae

Basic Description

Ridgway's Rail is a handsome gray-and-rusty bird that lives most of its life concealed in dense vegetation. It uses its formidable bill to probe into muddy wetlands for invertebrate prey. It lives in saltwater marshes, freshwater marshes, and mangrove swamps in California, Arizona, Nevada, and coastal western Mexico. Populations are declining largely due to wetland loss and degradation, and the species is listed in the U.S. as federally endangered. This species and Clapper Rail were considered the same species (along with Mangrove Rail) until 2014.

More ID Info
image of range map for Ridgway's Rail
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Rails are famously secretive, so look and listen for them when they're most active: at dawn and dusk. Move around gently and focus on areas with good sight lines, such as creek channels or where open mudflats meet patches of vegetation. Coastal Ridgway’s Rails often bathe in shallow pools at low tide. These rails are very vocal, with common vocalizations including males’ advertising call of repeated “kek” notes, pairs’ gruntlike “clapper” duets, and females’ “kek-burr” calls.

Other Names

  • Rascón de Ridgway (Spanish)
  • Râle de Californie (French)
  • Cool Facts