Paint-billed Crake Mustelirallus erythrops

  • © Devin Griffiths

The Paint-billed Crake is a mysterious bird, even for a rail, a family full of mysterious species. Nowhere easy to find, but widespread with a patchy distribution, this rail has a propensity to wind up lost well out of its range. At least two have been recorded in the United States, and it has been found as far south as the Valdez Peninsula in Argentine Patagonia. Furthermore the population on the Galapagos is thought to be recently established, giving more fuel to the idea that this rail is highly mobile and probably rather migratory. But due to its shy habits, the details of its movements or even residency at any one place are hard to compile. Additionally several voices have been attributed to this species which were misidentifications, slowing progress of the understanding of this rail. It is a handsome species grayish on the face and breast, strongly barred black and white on the belly and vent, brown above and showing bright red legs and a bicolored red and yellow bill. On the Galapagos it is locally common, and rather than using marshes it is found in moist forest with dense understory. Likely in South America it also uses many dense and non marsh habitats, where it runs along more like an antpitta than a rail.

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© Michael Harvey

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Paint-billed Crake (Mustelirallus erythrops), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: