Rails, also known as Rallidae, are a large family of birds that include Coots, Gallinules, and Crakes (Crakes are the short-billed Rails). Many of them can be found near water, but they can also be found in a variety of other habitats. Lakes, streams, and marshlands are great places to go bird watching for Rails in Houston, Texas. While many of them are shy and hard to find, they are well worth looking for. For tips on finding and identifying the members of the Rail family that you may find here in Houston, Texas, see below.
King Rail. You will recognize this Rail while bird watching from its russet colored feathers. Look for it in freshwater marshes in Houston, Texas. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is a good bird watching spot for these Rails, although sometimes they can even be sighted in a roadside ditch. Like most Rails, they are most often seen while bird watching at dawn and dusk, when they come out to feed. This Rail is a year-round resident of Houston, Texas.
Virginia Rail. This is one of the smaller Rails, and can usually be found in freshwater marshes in Houston, Texas, although occasionally it is found in saltwater marshes, too. Look for it while bird watching in April, when it is most common. It has gray cheeks and a reddish bill and legs. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and Bolivar Peninsula are good bird watching spots to look for this Rail.
Sora. The most common Rail in Houston, Texas, look for this year-round resident while bird watching at marshes. You will easily recognize this Rail while bird watching from its black face and bright yellow bill. March and April are the best months to look for it.
Purple Gallinule. Look for this colorful Rail while bird watching at marshes in Houston, Texas. It is common from May through September, and also nests here in Houston. They are easy to recognize while bird watching from their purple and green coloring, along with their bright red bills and yellow legs. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and Brazos Bend State Park are good bird watching places to look for these Rails.
Common Moorhen. Freshwater ponds and marshes are a good place to look for these birds in Houston, Texas. Recognize them while bird watching from their brown faces and brown bills, tipped with yellow. Brazos Bend State Park and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge are two good bird watching spots to look for them. Common Moorhens are permanent residents of Houston, Texas.
American Coot. These birds are common all year in Houston, Texas; look for them while bird watching in freshwater wetlands. You can distinguish them from other birds by their black bodies, white beaks and red eyes. They look very much like ducks when you see them swimming in the water, but their distinctive coloring makes them easy to identify while bird watching in Houston, Texas.
Black Rail. This Rail can be found while bird watching at shallow salt and freshwater marshes in Houston, Texas. It is the smallest of the Rails, and can be difficult to find due to its black, streaky body, black bill and secretive ways. Look for them from October through April in Houston, Texas.
Clapper Rail. Look for this bird at dawn and dusk in salt marshes in Houston, Texas. You may see it feeding on the mud flats while bird watching. This Rail is a year-round resident of Houston, Texas. You can identify it from its long, downward curving bill and reddish feathers.