Water Rail

(Rallus aquaticus)

It emits a sound similar to a frightened pig.


A small rail with a brownish-olive upper body bearing dense black stripes, grey-blue throat and chest with clear black and white bars, and a whitish undertail. The beak is red, long, and slightly curved. Total length: 23–28 cm. Wingspan: 38–45 cm. Weight: 80–190 g.


It frequents large and small damp areas as long as they are bordered by dense aquatic vegetation, as well as rivers, canals, lagoons, and coastal ponds. It nests amid rushes and islets, hiding its nest beautifully among the low vegetation. Its diet consists of fish, various aquatic animals, and plants.

Observation in the Torbiera Reserve

They are elusive and reluctantly take flight, preferring to hide among the vegetation. They sometimes swim like the common moorhen. Usually solitary, they become particularly active at dusk and dawn. Their call is hoarse and repeated with diminishing sounds. In the Reserve, the water rail can be seen year-round since it is a migrator, regularly wintering and building its nest, even though it becomes particularly elusive when nesting. The population reproduces in areas where the grassy marsh vegetation is thickest, and 5–6 males are estimated to be present, distributed between the ‘Lame’ and the ‘Lamette’.

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