Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)

Virginia Rail
Virginia Rail - CSU San Bernardino
© Tom Benson
Virginia Rail
Virginia Rail - CSU San Bernardino
© Tom Benson

The Virginia Rail is a casual visitor to campus: up to two were present 27 Jul-22 Sep 2016 in the marshy ponds north of Badger Hill. In southern California it occurs as both a rare year-round resident, and as an uncommon migrant and winter visitor; it prefers marshy habitats where it is often difficult to see.

The Virginia Rail can be identified by its long, reddish-orange bill, gray face, black and rufous upperparts, rufous breast, and black and white sides and belly. It spends much of its time within dense marsh vegetation, so its presence is often noted by its call: a series of slow, descending grunts. Rails have the ability to compress their bodies laterally in order to move through dense vegetation, giving rise to the saying 'thin as a rail'.


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