Help us give nature a home from £3 a month.
Birds by name
Conservation status: Green
Smaller and distinctly slimmer than the moorhen, the water rail is a fairly common but highly secretive inhabitant of freshwater wetlands. It has chestnut-brown and black upperparts, grey face and underparts and black-and-white barred flanks, and a long red bill. Difficult to see in the breeding season, it is relatively easier to find in winter, when it is also more numerous and widespread. Although usually secretive they can become confiding but are still far more often heard than seen.
Widely but thinly distributed as breeding birds across the UK, but absent from upland areas. Most abundant in Eastern England and suitable habitat along the south coast.
All year round, although numbers are higher in winter when many birds arrive from continental Europe.
Omnivorous - mainly small fish, snails and insects.
* UK breeding is the number of pairs breeding annually. UK wintering is the number of individuals present from October to March. UK passage is the number of individuals passing through on migration in spring and/or autumn.
Please note that the map is only intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto