Water rail

Rallus aquaticus

A young water rail, photo Antti Koli

A slender bird with a long beak; they have a round body and live a hidden life in coast vegetation. They look similar to a corn crake. They have a brown back and the bottom part of their body is dark grey. There are dark and broken stripes on the back, white-black streaks on the side, and the area under their tail is yellowish. Their beak is slim and red, slightly curved, and with a black tip. Their movements are very skilled; they are also excellent swimmers, divers, and runners. If they are forced to fly, they only cover a short distance, with wings aflutter and feet hanging in the air. Water rails are also called ‘reed chicken’. This name is based on their habitat: thick thickets of reeds and shrubs near waterbodies and swamps. They are under protection (protection category III) because there are so few of them in Estonia. Even though their meat is rather delicious (similar to that of chicken), they are not usually hunted for their meat because they are so small and it is difficult to catch them.