Family RALLIDAE

The Bails, Crakes, and Coots constitute this family and have numerous representatives in India. They are marsh-birds in general, living amongst reeds or grass, and are such adepts in running through thick vegetation, a proceeding which is facilitated by their slender narrow build, and in hiding, that their presence is often unsuspected until they are betrayed by their voice. Owing to their skulking habits, the range of some of the Indian species is still imperfectly known.

In this family the sternum much resembles in form that of Turnix, and has a similar deep notch on each side. There is a small aftershaft to the contour feathers, and the fifth secondary is absent. There are long lateral bare tracts on the neck. The deep flexor tendons are Galline—that is to say, the f. longus hallucis supplies the hallux and the f. perforans digitorum the other three digits, but the two are connected by a vinculum passing from the first-named to the second.

The food is in most forms chiefly vegetable, consisting of various water-plants, seeds, &c, but in addition most of the species live on molluscs, on insects and their larvae, and on small crustaceans. As a rule, the eggs are numerous and are laid in a coarse, roughly built nest of grass, rushes, and similar substances. The young are hatched covered with down, very often of a black colour, and are able to run or swim within a few hours.

Key to the Genera.

a. Bill from gape as long as the tarsus or longer.
a1. No white markings on back; bill slender……………………RALLUS, p. 158.
b1. Back with white bars or spots; bill stouter……………………HYPOTAENIDIA, p. 160.
b. Bill from gape much shorter than tarsus,
c1. No frontal shield.
a2. 2nd quill longest, 1st between 6th and 7th.
a3. Tarsus longer than middle toe without claw……………………CREX, p. 162.
b3. Tarsus shorter than middle toe……………………PORZANA, p. 163.
b2, 3rd to 6th quills longest, 1st shorter than 8th.
c3. Tarsus longer than middle toe and claw; plumage banded beneath……………………RALLINA, p. 167.
d3. Tarsus shorter than middle toe without claw; plumage not banded……………………AMAURORNIS, p. 170.
d1. Upper mandible prolonged on forehead to form a frontal shield.
c2. No lobate fringe to toes.
e3. Plumage not blue; frontal shield not truncated behind.
a4. Toes with a narrow straight-edged lateral fringe; sexes alike……………………GALLINULA, p. 175.
b4. No fringe to toes; sexes differing……………………GALLICREX, p. 176.
f3. Plumage blue; frontal shield truncated behind……………………PORPHYRIO, p. 178.
d2. Toes with a membranous fringe divided into convex lobes; plumage blackish grey……………………FULICA, p. 180.
* As in some other cases, this Key only applies to Indian species.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds
Reference: 
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. 4. 1898.
Title in Book: 
Family RALLIDAE
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1898
Page No: 
156
M_ID: 
3370
M_SN: 
Rallidae
Volume: 
Vol. 4
Term name: 
id: 
1976

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