Black Rail: Smallest North American rail, mostly dark gray or nearly black with white-speckled back, belly, flanks. Nape and upper back are chestnut-brown. Eyes are red. Eats seeds of aquatic plants, grasses and grains, insects and small marine crustaceans. Weak fluttering flight with legs dangling.
Range and Habitat
Black Rail: Nests on marshes and open grasslands from southern New England to the Gulf coast states. Spends winters from the southern Atlantic coast states south to Central America. Preferred habitats include marshes, swamps, and wet meadows.
Measuring only about the size of a sparrow, they are the smallest North American rail.
The Black Rail is extinct or threatened in many locations due to habitat loss. The largest populations in North America are in Florida and California.
The name rail is derived from the Latin verb "raelare," which means "to scrape" and is a good description of one of the bird's vocalizations.
A group of rails are collectively known as a "hill" and a "rumor" of rails.