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Coots Rails and Moorhens: Rallidae


Rails are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. The more aquatic rails, such as coots and gallinules, tend to eat primarily plant matter, whereas wetland and terrestrial rails tend to have a diet consisting mostly of animal matter. Animal matter eaten by rails can include insects, spiders, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, and sometimes small fish, frogs, tadpoles, lizards, snakes, or turtle hatchlings. Rails will also eat the eggs or chicks of other birds. Some rails even eat carrion, dead animal matter. Plant matter eaten by rails can include fruits, seeds, stems, leaves, tubers, roots, and, in some species, cultivated crops. Most rails are generalists, that is, they eat a wide variety of foods, concentrating on whatever food is most abundant at the time. However, there are a few specialists. The chestnut rail and rufous-necked wood-rail, for example, inhabit mangrove forests and eat mostly crabs.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsCoots Rails and Moorhens: Rallidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Rails And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE