The largest of North American rails, the King Rail, is a chicken-sized secretive bird of the marsh. Nesting in fresh water marshes here in Tennessee it has become more and more uncommon as it's nesting habitat is drained.
Closely related to the much more common Clapper Rail, the King Rail may interbreed in zones where salt and fresh marsh meet.
The King Rail forages in shallow water searching for crayfish, large beetles, snails, grasshoppers, frogs, crabs and seeds of aquatic plants. Once they have found food they will carry it to dry land to dismember and eat.
Females will lay a large clutch of usually 10-12 eggs and both sexes incubate the eggs for about 3 weeks. Young leave the nest within hours of hatching and both parents will feed them for another 3 weeks although the chicks will also forage and feed themselves. The young can make short flights at about 10 weeks of age. King Rails can have two broods per year.
King Rails do migrate from most of the northern and island parts of their range in winter flying mostly at night.