Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Near Threatened

Mexican Rail (Rallus tenuirostris)


French: Râle du Mexique German: Aztekenralle Spanish: Rascón mexicano
Other common names: Highland Rail

Rallus elegans var. tenuirostris


, 1874,

Mexico City


In past, often treated as conspecific with R. longirostris, R. obsoletus, R. elegans and R. crepitans; more recently only with R. elegans; 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 “large, very bright rufous ventrally, and [with] diffuse flank banding”, as well as being confined to highland freshwater marshes; 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. Monotypic.


C Mexico.

Descriptive notes

33–42 cm; male 271–331g, female 220–268g. Male dark morph is generally duller, somewhat less dark and less boldly marked on upperparts than R. elegans, and has white... read more


Very like that of R. elegans. Breeding-season advertising call of both sexes a series of “... read more


Highland freshwater marshes; uses seasonal wetlands, as well as permanent, freshwater ones. Occurs... read more

Food and feeding

Principally crustaceans, especially crayfish, also molluscs, and aquatic and terrestrial insects; presumably takes also at least some... read more


Lays in May–Aug, possibly from Apr and extending to Sept. One nest was a domed structure made from spikerush (Eleocharis), placed... read more


Resident, with some seasonal dispersal. Appearance in smaller seasonal areas of marsh probably due... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Has limited range, restricted to freshwater marshes in highlands of C Mexico. Global population not known;... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Mexican Rail (Rallus tenuirostris). 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 11 December 2019).