Juvenile © Paul Lewis
Adult © Kavi Nanda
Juvenile © Ricardo Rodríguez
Adult © Patrick J. Blake

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus

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Shy but generally not uncommon, this reclusive marsh bird is more often heard than seen; listen for its varied piglike squeals and grunts coming from dense vegetation. Favors fresh marshes and ponds with taller vegetation, especially reeds and rushes; in winter and freezing weather, sometimes in tidal marshes. Most often seen at muddy edges, walking stealthily; can move very quickly. About half the size of a moorhen. Note long, mostly red bill (unlike short, chickenlike bill of crakes), and barred flanks. Replaced in much of Asia by the Brown-cheeked Rail, with which it has minor overlap; very similar, but lacks the strong eye stripe of that species, has a darker throat and grayer breast and belly.