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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Amaze-wing Facts About The Virginia Rail For Kids

The Virginia rail facts that it is native to North America.

Ever tried to spot a Virginia rail and found it challenging to get a glimpse of these secretive wetland birds? Do not worry as we are going to learn about them in detail. A Virginia rail (Rallus limicola) is a small chicken-like water bird native to North America of the family Rallidae. They belong to the genus Rallus to which other birds with long bills belong to. These are considered game birds in some states, even though they are rarely hunted. These are migratory birds, and their migration is from the north to the southern part of North America. These birds can be heard more than they are seen. They are very shy but are capable of making loud calls. They make a call like grunting to scare away their predators. Some similar species of rails are Clapper rail, King rail, and Ridgway's rail.

You can find many interesting and fun facts about Virginia rail as you scroll down. To know more exciting facts about other birds, don't miss to check our articles on the golden pheasant and secretary bird.

Virginia Rail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Virginia rail?

A Virginia rail is a small, secretive waterbird of the family Rallidae and order Gruiformes.

What class of animal does a Virginia rail belong to?

A Virginia rail belongs to the class of Aves.

How many Virginia rails are there in the world?

The exact population of these birds is not known due to their secretive nature. But as per the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the world population of Virginia rail was stable between the years 1996-2015. As per, Partners in Flight, these North American bird conservation is of Least Concern.

Where does a Virginia rail live?

A Virginia rail lives in brackish and freshwater marshes. During winter, they live in saltwater marshes.

What is a Virginia rail's habitat?

In the breeding season, a Virginia rail's habitat is freshwater marshes where vegetation is dense and tall. They prefer to live in shallow water, which should be less than six inches deep. These rails are common in wetlands with mudflats, matted vegetation, open water, and 40-70 % coverage of emergent plants. They are sometimes seen in saltwater marshes and deeper wetlands. They may move around the open areas more during the non-breeding season.

Who do Virginia rails live with?

Virginia rails prefer to live solitary life during the non-breeding season. They form and live in monogamous pairs in their breeding season. Sometimes they are seen coexisting with Soras.

How long does a Virginia rail live?

Virginia rails' lifespan is not evaluated due to their secretive behavior. But other birds in these species are known to live for eight to nine years.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction starts with the courtship display of the adult male to attract the female, and it starts in May. In this process, the male raises its wings and moves back and forth next to the female. The male feeds the female. They bow to each other and make grunting sounds. These birds are monogamous, and both parents are responsible for building a nest and caring for the chicks. They build the nest one week before their first egg is laid. They use grass, reeds, and marsh plants like Bulrush Scrispus or Cattails Typha. They build their nest in places with thick vegetation near the foot of emergent vegetation to protect the young from predators. They also build some dummy nests throughout the marsh. They lay 4-13 eggs that are in white or buff color with brown or gray spots. Both male and female parents incubate the eggs for 20-22 days, after which chicks hatch out of them. The chicks develop quickly, and within 24 hours after hatching, they stand, swim, and preen. After seven days of hatching, the chick forages for food just like adults. A Virginia rail chick depends on its parents for food for two to three weeks. The young fly within a month and become independent, after which parents break their pair-bond.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these birds is of Least Concern. Despite the loss of habitat and hunting by humans, they remain sufficiently common.

Virginia Rail Fun Facts

What do Virginia rails look like?

Virginia rails are small chicken-like marsh birds that live in marshes. Adult birds are brown with crown and back parts darker than the rest of the body. They have a white throat, gray cheeks, and a white stripe over the eye. They have laterally flattened bodies and strong forehead feathers to walk through thick vegetation and stand firm while pushing through dense plants. Their long toes are useful while walking on the vegetation that floats above the water surface. Their bill is long, slim in red color, and legs are orange-brown. The leg muscle to flight muscle ratio is highest in Virginia rail of all the rails species, which explains why they walk mostly than flying. They have a short tail. The juvenile Virginia rail are a bit different from adults. Juvenile upperparts are blackish-brown, and underparts are dark brown to black. Their bill and legs are brownish, and their face is grayish. The chicks are black.

The Virginia rail (Rallus limicola) has a long red bill.

How cute are they?

Virginia railbirds are beautiful, and chicks are particularly very cute.

How do they communicate?

They communicate with different calls. A Virginia rail call is more like the grunting sound of a pig, which they do throughout dawn and dusk. A Virginia rail sound includes 'kuk kuk kuk', which they make at night. During the spring, both the female and the male make 'tic-it' or 'kid-ick' calls to find their mate and protect their territory.

How big is a Virginia rail?

An adult Virginia rail is 7-11 in long, and its wingspan is 12-15 in. Both females and males are nearly similar, with females being smaller than males. These birds are bigger than Soras and smaller than American coots.

How fast can a Virginia rail fly?

Virginia rails prefer to walk than fly. To escape its predators, it usually runs instead of flying. A Virginia rail flying can be seen only during the migration or for short distances between wetlands. These North American birds also swim and dive into the water by pushing with their wings, especially to escape predators. While walking, this bird holds up its tail and fan them, and we can see the black and white covert feathers.

How much does a Virginia rail weigh?

Virginia rails weigh nearly 2.3-3.3 oz.

What are their male and female names of the species?

They do not have specific names for their male and female species.

What would you call a baby Virginia rail?

A baby Virginia rail is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Virginia rails use their bill to thoroughly explore shallow water or mud and eat aquatic insects like beetles, earthworms, crayfish, snails. They also prey on insects like dragonflies and flies. They also feed on aquatic animals like frogs, small fish, and small snakes, along with seeds. Most of their diet includes animal prey except in the fall and winter, during which they depend on vegetation.

Are they aggressive?

Virginia rails are not at all aggressive towards humans, in fact, they are very timid and it is difficult to get a glimpse of them. Both males and females are aggressive when defending their habitat and young.

Would they make a good pet?

Virginia rails do not make a good pet as this bird is very secretive and is closely related to the cattails of marshes. Any animal or bird can be made a good and happy pet only if its captivity habitat reflects its natural habitat.

Did you know...

The male and female birds are very similar, but females are smaller than males. Females have less body mass and wingspan than males.

It is challenging to get a glimpse of this bird because of its shy behavior and evasive escape action. It is important to consider the time of day to find these birds. These birds are highly crepuscular and so are active at dawn and dusk. So plan your search for them before sunrise or two hours before sunset. Search for them in places in the marsh where there is a creek through vegetation.

Virginia rail range reshapes with change in the climate. These are migratory birds with a range including Central America and southern North America. During summer, which is their breeding season, their range reaches as far north as Canada and towards the east as Pennsylvania and west as Pacific Coast. Their non-breeding range is from North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico. Populations of these bird species are seen throughout the year along the Pacific coast. Very few populations are seen in South America during winter.

What does a Virginia rail have the highest of?

Of different species of rails, Virginia rails have the highest ratio of leg muscles to flight muscles, and it is 15-25% of their body weight. This is why they prefer to run rather than to fly to escape predators.

How do Virginia rails protect their young from predators?

Virginia rails are very clever in protecting their young. They create dummy nests around the vegetation to confuse their predators. The actual nest is formed at the bottom of the emergent vegetation, especially in places where vegetation is dense.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the reddish egret, or snowy plover.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our virginia rail coloring pages.

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