FWS Focus


The Yellow Rail is a small, secretive marshbird that runs under vegetation. It has a short yellow or blackish bill, short tail, buffy yellow chest and face, as well as yellowish and black streaks on its back. In addition, it has a dark crown, dark stripe through its eyes, and an indistinct white patch at the back of its wings. Juveniles are similar to adults, but are darker and more spotted.

References cited in Species Profile

  • Audubon Minnesota. 2014. Yellow Rail Minnesota Conservation Summary. http://mn.audubon.org/sites/default/files/documents/yellow_rail_conservation_summary_12-31-2014.pdf
  • BirdLife International. 2014. Species factsheet: Coturnicops noveboracensis BirdLife International. [Online.] http://www.birdlife.org
  • Bookhout, T. A. and J. R. Stenzel. 1987. Habitat and movements of breeding Yellow Rails.Wilson Bull. 99:441-447.
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2015. Yellow Rail. All About Birds. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Yellow_Rail/id
  • Environment Canada. 2013. Management Plan for the Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. iii + 24 pp.
  • Leston, Lionel and Theodore A. Bookhout. 2015. Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/139
  • Stalheim, P. S. 1974. Behavior and ecology of the Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis). Master's Thesis. Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
  • Stern, M. A., J. F. Morawski, and G. A. Rosenberg. 1993. Rediscovery and status of a disjunct population of breeding Yellow Rails in southern Oregon. Condor 95:1024-1027.

Scientific Name

Coturnicops noveboracensis
Common Name
Yellow Rail
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



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