Mexican Rail Rallus tenuirostris


Justification of Red List Category
This rail may have a moderately small population within which all subpopulations are likely to be small, and an overall decline is suspected owing to degradation of its highland freshwater marsh habitat. For these reasons the species has been classified as Near Threatened, but further information is highly desirable and may lead to a reclassification in the future.

Population justification
The population size is currently estimated to total ~15,000 mature individuals (Partners in Flight 2019).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining owing to the degradation of its wetland habitat.

Distribution and population

This species is found in highland freshwater marshes in central Mexico, from southern Nayarit, Jalisco, Guanajuato and southern San Luis Potosi, south to Guerrero, Morelos and Puebla (Warner and Dickerman 1959; Williams 1989; Howell and Webb 1995; Taylor 1998). It is apparently absent from the lowlands of Colima (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 2016). In the mid-20th century, the species was reported to be common in extensive marshes west of Mexico City, although the edges of these habitats were being grazed (Warner and Dickerman 1959). It is relatively common in south-west Jalisco around Laguna Zapotlan and the surrounding area (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 2016). Recent records also represent a dramatic expansion of its known range with the species recorded in ‘Río San Pedro-Meoqui’ Ramsar site, Chihuahua, Mexico (Mondaca-Fernández et al. 2017).


It is restricted to highland freshwater marshes, and has been recorded at 800-2,500 m at least (Williams 1989). The species has also been recorded in smaller seasonal areas of marsh, probably through dispersal from permanent wetlands in the rainy season (Williams 1989).


Permanent wetlands in central Mexico are reported to be in a degraded condition and the total area of habitat available to this species becomes very limited towards the end of the typical dry season. Furthermore, these habitats have been reported as under threat from increasing agricultural, industrial and urban development (Williams 1989). It is apparently tolerant of nearby humans (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
The species is included on the 'Watch List' of the State of North America's Birds as a species of high conservation concern (NABCI 2016).

Conservation and research actions proposed
Survey wetlands within the historical range to obtain population and trend estimates. Clarify scale and severity of threats. Protect wetland habitats within its range.


Text account compilers
Everest, J.

Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Howell, S., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Rallus tenuirostris. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/03/2023.