The Speckled Rail is a poorly known species with a curiously patchy and disjunct distribution in northern and southern South America. It has long been speculated that this species, like its Nearctic congener, the Yellow Rail, undertakes long distance migration, breeding in savannas from southern Brazil and central Argentina and wintering in the northerly savannas of Colombia and Venezuela. This is likely erroneous due to overlapping dates of occurrence and enlarged testes of birds collected in Venezuela. At the least, these far flung localities point to long distance dispersal, a feat not uncommon in the family. This is corroborated by numerous Speckled Rail specimens taken at sea, including the type specimen, which was collected by the HMS Beagle in 1831 at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. It is best known from grassy savannas, dense marshy vegetation, swamps and rice paddies where it forages for seeds and some arthropod prey.