Virginia Rail: Medium rail with brown-and-black mottled upperparts, white throat, rust-brown breast, and black-and-white barred belly. Head has black crown, gray face, and white eyebrows. Bill is long, red-brown, and curved down. Legs are orange-brown. Tail is short, black above, and white below.
Range and Habitat
Virginia Rail: Breeds from southern British Columbia to Newfoundland to northwestern Baja California, southern Arizona, west-central Texas, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, central Mexico, and South America. Winters from southern British Columbia to northern Baja California, and north to the Gulf Coast and North Carolina. Prefers freshwater marshes with cattails, reeds, and deep grass.
Like other rails, the Virginia Rail prefers to escape danger by running through marsh vegetation rather than flying. If forced to fly in order to escape it will only fly a short distance. Regardless of its apparent weak flight, it migrates long distances each year.
Because they are reclusive birds and quick runners, Virginia Rails are rarely seen and many of their characteristics and behaviors have not been documented.
A group of Virginia Rails are collectively known as a "reel" of rails.