yellow rail, credit: Domenic Sherony CC BY-SA 2.0

Special Concern Provincially and Nationally


• Small quail-like marsh bird with short bill and tail
• Chest and face are buff-yellow; dark crown and dark stripe through its eyes; distinctive yellow and black streaks on back; white wing patch visible in flight
• Seldom seen, as it lives deep in the reeds and marshes of shallow wetlands
• Male makes distinct clicking sound during breeding season that resembles two pebbles being banged together


• Ranges across much of central Canada and parts of the northern United States
• In Ontario, found in Hudson Bay Lowlands region and some localized marshes in southern Ontario


• Habitat loss and degradation (wetlands)
• Invasive plants
• Incidental mortality (agricultural operations)
• Collisions with infrastructure
• Overgrazing by snow geese in the Hudson Bay Lowlands


• Federally protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
• Not protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 or under the Species at Risk Act, 2002


There is evidence of local declines of yellow rail in several parts of its breeding range.

yellow rail, credit: Dave Quady CC BY 2.0