Yellow Rail

Yellow Rail
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Coturnicops
Species: C. noveboracensis
Binomial name
Coturnicops noveboracensis
(Gmelin, 1789)

The Yellow Rail, Coturnicops noveboracensis, is a small waterbird, of the family Rallidae.

Adults have brown upperparts streaked with black, a yellowish-brown breast, a light belly and barred flanks. The short thick dark bill turns yellow in males during the breeding season. The feathers on the back are edged with white. There is a yellow brown band over the eye and the legs are greenish-yellow.

specimen at AMNH

Their breeding habitat is wet meadows and shallow marshes across Canada east of the Rockies; also the northeastern United States and the entire northern US-Canadian border Great Plains to the Great Lakes. A small population may exist in northern Mexico. The nest is a shallow cup built with marsh vegetation on damp ground under a canopy of dead plants.

The Yellow Rail migrates to the southeastern coastal United States.

The diet consists mainly of insects, snails and seeds.

The Yellow Rail are very elusive and seldom seen; when approached, they are more likely to rely on camouflage than flight. The bird's call, usually given at night, sounds like two stones being clicked together. Their numbers have declined in recent years due to loss of habitat.


  • BirdLife International (2004). Coturnicops noveboracensis. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 6 May 2006. Database entry includes a lengthy justification of why this species is of least concern

External links