Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)


French: Râle jaune German: Gelbralle Spanish: Polluela amarillenta

Fulica noveboracensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

New York, USA


Closely related to, and sometimes considered conspecific with, C. exquisitus (but see that species). Proposed races emersoni (from W California) and richii (NE Ohio) are synonyms of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. n. noveboracensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – SC & SE Canada to NC & NE USA, with isolated population in NW USA; winters in S & SE USA.
  • C. n. goldmani (Nelson, 1904) – marshes of R Lerma, C Mexico (possibly extinct).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–19 cm; male 52–68 (59)g, female 41–61 (52)g. Easily distinguishable from all other North American rallids on size and plumage; similar to Hapalocrex... read more


    Breeding-season song of male 4–5 metallic clicks, like 2 stones tapped together. Calls mostly... read more


    Breeding habitat comprises the higher, drier margins of fresh- and brackish-water marshes dominated... read more

    Food and feeding

    Earthworms, small freshwater snails, crustaceans (including Isopoda), spiders, beetles, cockroaches, bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, ants and... read more


    In USA, lays May–Jul; Mexico, flightless juvenile Sept. All further information for nominate race. Presumed territorial and... read more


    Occupies breeding areas from late Apr or May to Sept–Oct. Deuterium and sulfur values from... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Nominate race is local breeder over wide area of Canada and N USA. Breeding range has decreased: formerly bred in N California, and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2019). Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis). 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 15 December 2019).