basic information

Water Rail

Rallus aquaticus (Linnaeus, 1758)

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Almaty region, Sorbulak
© Oleg Belyalov


Adult Water Rails have olive-brownish with broad black centers upperparts, crown, wing-coverts and inner secondaries. Head-flanks, neck-flanks, throat, craw and fore-breast are grey. Body-flanks are with across broad black and narrow white strips. Rear-belly is buffy. Lower wing-coverts are with black and white strips. Long feathers of undertail are white, short ones are black with white across bars and buffy tips. Bill is brownish-black with orange-red base of lower mandible. Legs are brownish. Eyes are orange-red. First-year juveniles have upperparts dimmer than on adults; throat is whitish, other underparts are pale-buffy; across strips on body-flanks are dark-brownish and white. Second-year birds have whitish throat, other underparts are greyish-buffy; in all other plumage same to adults. Sizes: wing 95-130 mm, bill 35-45 mm, tarsus 35-47 mm. Weight 132-187 gr.


Water Rail breeds in all parts of Kazakhstan except waterless steppes and deserts. Widespread on migration. Wintering in Southern and South-Eastern Kazakhstan. Please see detailed distribution in section Subspecies.


Water Rail is common breeding migrant, but at southern Kazakhstan resident mostly. Inhabits fresh and salty lakes, pounds and slowly moving rivers with reed-beds and reed mace tickets. Arrives in mid-March or in early April, on northern areas some later - in end of April or in early May. Breeds in pairs, not close one to another. Nest is built above the water of deepness to the pint of one meter; nest built on the base of reed bunch or other vegetation, between the willow thicket; from the old reed, reed mace and other leaves. The base of nest disposes at 10-15 cm above the water, but in some cases touched water. Clutches of 3-8 eggs in May - early June. Double brooded, renesting after loss of first clutches isn't rare. Both parents begin incubate when a clutches is still not full, during 19-21 days. Juveniles hatch in June - July. Autumn migration begins in September, and northern areas birds leave in mid-October, but in southern areas of Kazakhstan Water Rail winters.


Rallus aquaticus aquaticus (Linnaeus, 1758)

    Description. Colour darker, with more brownish-olive shade than in korejewi. Male wing - 119-126 (122) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds in northern half of Kazakhstan, in south to Caspian Sea, lower reaches of Turgay river and Zaysan depression. Widespread on migration. Sometimes winters in Semipalatinsk area.

Rallus aquaticus korejewi (Zarudny, 1905)

    Description. Colour lighter, with more yellowish-olive shade than in aquaticus. Male wing - 118-130 (124) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds in southern half of Kazakhstan, north up to Aral Sea, Syrdarya valley and Alakol depression. Winters in the south and south east of the Kazakhstan. In Almaty single birds recorded 13 October 1999 and 22 October 2004.


"Птицы Казахстана" том 1, Алма-Ата, 1960
Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.
Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.



Rallus aquaticus aquaticus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Rallus aquaticus korejewi
(Zarudny, 1905)

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