Description and Ecology
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.
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 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.
The Yellow Rail feeds primarily on small invertebrates and compliments its diet with plant seeds. Beetles (Coleoptera) account for the highest proportion of the birds' diet, followed by spiders (Araneae) and snails (Gastropods), whereas plant matter is dominated by sedges (Cyperaceae) and rushes (Juncaceae).
- BirdLife International (2012). "Coturnicops noveboracensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System [Internet] 2012. [updated 2012 Sept; cited 2012 Dec 26] Available from: www.itis.gov/
- Robert M, Cloutier L, Laporte P. 1997. The summer diet of the Yellow Rail in Southern Québec. Wilson Bulletin 109(4):702-710.
- BirdLife Species Factsheet
- Yellow Rail Species Account - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Yellow Rail - Coturnicops noveboracensis - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
- Yellow Rail photo-High Res; RangeMap & synopsis InfoNatura NatureServe
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