Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Mangrove Rail (Rallus longirostris)


French: Râle gris German: Mangroveralle Spanish: Rascón de manglar

Rallus longirostris


, 1783,

Cayenne, French Guiana


In past, often treated as conspecific with R. tenuirostris, R. obsoletus, R. elegans and R. crepitans; more recently only with R. obsoletus and R. crepitans; but recent study#R indicates that each of these taxa merits recognition as a separate species, based largely on molecular evidence supported by morphological details, with present species “relatively small, dull-breasted, stout-billed, and restricted to mangroves”; the differences are complex and require detailed evaluation both between and within current new species limits, but are provisionally accepted here in the light of genetic findings. Suggested to be conspecific with R. wetmorei, but ranges overlap with no known interbreeding. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. l. cypereti Taczanowski, 1878 – coasts from extreme SW Colombia (Nariño) through Ecuador to extreme NW Peru (Tumbes).
  • R. l. phelpsi Wetmore, 1941 – extreme NE Colombia (Guajira) and NW Venezuela (E to W Miranda).
  • R. l. dillonripleyi Phelps, Jr & Aveledo, 1987 – coast of NE Venezuela (Sucre).
  • R. l. margaritae J. T. Zimmer & Phelps, Sr, 1944 – Margarita I (off N Venezuela).
  • R. l. pelodramus Oberholser, 1937 – Trinidad.
  • R. l. longirostris Boddaert, 1783 – coasts of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
  • R. l. crassirostris Lawrence, 1871 – coastal Brazil from Amazon estuary to Santa Catarina.
  • Also present between French Guiana and mouth of R Amazon, but race(s) unclear.

    Descriptive notes

    c. 33 cm; 260–310 g. Large rail with long, slender, slightly decurved bill. Nominate race is dull grey-brown above, upperparts with darker feather centres, white loral... read more


    Loud clattering “kek-kek-kek…”, accelerating before gradually slowing; heard... read more


    Salt and brackish marshes, particularly those with tidal sloughs; coastal mangrove swamps.  read more

    Food and feeding

    Molluscs, leeches, crustaceans (including crayfish and many crabs), aquatic insects (especially dytiscid beetles), grasshoppers,... read more


    Apr in Venezuela; Apr–Dec, mostly May–Jun, in Trinidad; birds in breeding condition in Jan and in May–Jun in Suriname.... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Has very large range within which it is locally common. Probably more widespread in Colombia than the few known localities suggest.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Mangrove Rail (Rallus longirostris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 April 2020).