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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 1:22 EDT

Grey-necked Wood Rail, Aramedes cajaneus

The Grey-necked Wood Rail (Aramedes cajaneus) is a species of bird belonging to the Rallidae family. It can be found in Belize, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Columbia, El Salvador, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Uruguay. Its natural habitats are tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, tropical and subtropical mangrove swamps, tropical or subtropical swamps, and swamps.

This bird is one of the larger Neotropical rails and the only Aramides with a head and neck that are entirely grey. This chicken sized bird has long pink legs, a rust colored chest, yellow beak and a grey neck and back. They are able to run quickly through the reeds and they rarely fly to escape from predators.

The nests consist of grass and reeds placed among the reeds or in a branch hanging over the water. They feed mainly at night on crabs. They will also eat seeds, insects and worms.

The Grey-necked Wood Rail can range in size from 37 cm to 41 cm. The clutch is usually 5 to 8 eggs and they hatch in about 20 days. The chicks are chocolate brown and remain in the nest for a few days. The male bird takes charge and feeds the chicks when they leave the nest.

The following are the only eight accepted subspecies.’ Mexicanus, Bangs; it can be found in southern Mexico. Albiventrus, Lawrence; it can be found from Yucatan to Belize to Northern Guatemala. Vanrossemi, Dickey; it can be found from southern Mexico to southern Guatemala and El Salvador. Pacificus’, ‘A. H. Miller & Griscom; it can be found in the Caribbean slope of Honduras and Nicaragua. Plumbeicollis, Zeledon; it can be found in northeast Costa Rica. Latens, Bangs & Penard; it can be found in San Miguel and Viveros. Morrisoni, Wetmore; it can be found in San Jose and Pedro Gonzales. Cajanea; it can be found from Costa Rica to Columbia, east through Venezuela and Trinidad to Brazil, and south to northern Argentina and Uruguay.

The population size is extremely large and does not approach the threshold for vulnerable under the population size criteria. For this reason, this species is listed as Least Concern. Like all rails, it is shy and secretive but will go out into the open if reasonably close to dense cover at the edge of mangroves or a swamp.

The amount of data regarding this bird is poor, but BirdLife International estimates between 5,000,000 and 50,000,000 individuals.

Image Caption: Grey-necked Wood-rail at Rara Avis near Las Horquetas, Costa Rica. Credit: Hans Hillewaert/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Grey-necked Wood Rail Aramedes cajaneus