Mobile bird identification
Bird Field Guide

Water Rail

Rallus aquaticus
Rails, Crakes & Coots Menu
Order: Gruiformes

Family: Rallidae

Genus:  Rallus

Species: R. aquaticus
Not usually seen in flight, the Water Rail has mostly brown upperparts. Note the striking red eye and grey face and breast of this bird.

The adult Water Rail has a rich brown back, grey chest and it's flanks are barred white and black. It has a red eye and a red bill tipped with black.

Adult Male & Female
Winter visitor
Resident bird
Passage Migrant
Summer visitor
General distribution:
Can be found throughout most of Europe being a resident bird in Southern and Western areas. Birds which breed in the North of Europe tend to head South for the winter. Resident in the UK and considered widespread but very hard to see.
Dense reeds around freshwater and muddy ditches are the Water Rails usual habitat.
A frustrating bird to see, the Water Rail is most often heard calling from dense vegetation. Occasionally a bird will be seen to run across an open area between cover.

Can be confused with the rare Spotted Crake which has a much shorter bill and lacks the grey face and breast.
Water Rail distribution
Beautiful footage of a Water Rail.
Thanks to:
Identifying a Water Rail
* key ID points
*Barred flanks

Brown back with dark streaks

*Reddish slightly curved bill, darker upper culmen

Water Rail in flight

*Red eye

Thanks to: (Modified)
Water Rail skulking
A Water Rail as they are most often seen, skulking in waterside foliage. The barring on the flanks of this bird is particularly prominent.
Thanks to:; (Modified)