Black Rail, Laterallus jamaicensis

The Black Rail, (Laterallus jamaicensis), is a species of bird in the Rallidae family. It is found in scattered regions of North America and the Pacific area of South America. In North America its largest populations are in Florida and California. It is extinct or threatened in many areas due to habitat loss. Its main habitat is slat marsh and freshwater marsh.

The Black Rail is often considered the same species as the Peruvian Junin Crake and the Galapagos Crake.

This is an omnivorous bird, feeding mainly on small invertebrates but also on seeds of some marsh plants. It is preyed upon by hawks, egrets and herons, foxes and cats. It relies on the cover of thick marsh vegetation as protection from predators. It is a territorial species and calls loudly and frequently during the mating season.

The Black Rail is a shy bird and prefers running within the cover of its dense marsh vegetation habitat instead of flying. It will sometimes make its presence known, however, with its distinctive ki-ki-krr call or an aggressive growl. The best time to observe this bird is during high tides when it is forced out of its habitat into nearby fields and brush for cover.

Image Credit: Danika Tsao-USGS/Wikipedia (public domain)