; class Aves, order Gruiformes)
A family of small to medium-sized birds which have black, olive, chestnut, or buff plumage, some being barred or spotted, laterally compressed bodies, short, rounded wings, short tails, and medium to long legs with long toes. The bill is short and conical to long and decurved, and some bills have frontal shields. Rallidae are secretive, terrestrial, and often aquatic. Most live in marshes, feed on animal and vegetable matter, and nest on the ground or low in a bush. Fulica cornuta builds a mound of stones as a foundation to its nest. The 7–12 species of Gallinula (gallinules and moorhens) and 15 species of Porzana (crakes and rails) are typical. Coots (nine species of Fulica) have a red or white shield on the forehead, replaced in F. cornuta (horned coot) by a muscular wattle. Despite appearing to be a weak flier, Crex (corncrake) is a long-distance migrant; its population is declining due to changing agricultural practices. There are 30–40 genera in the family, with about 125 species, some migratory, found world-wide.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.