Bird Families

Central American Shepherd / Rallus limicola


Shepherdesses (lat. Rallus) is a genus of aquatic birds of the shepherd family, which includes 9 species that live in the Old and New World. Sometimes this genus also includes birds from the genera Lewinia and Gallirallus.

Six types of shepherds live in America, and the remaining three in Eurasia, Africa and Madagascar. One species is widespread on the territory of Russia - the water shepherd. All species are closely related to each other - it is assumed that their common ancestor lived in America.

General characteristics

The body is slender, flattened on the sides - a characteristic that allows birds to move easily in dense coastal vegetation. The head is small, oblong, with a very long (noticeably longer than the head) and thin beak. The beak is laterally compressed and slightly curved at the end. The nostrils are located on the sides. The neck is long and thin. The legs are long, with medium toes and a poorly developed hind toe. The wings are wide and very short. The tail is short, rounded, with twelve tail feathers.

At present (2007) 9 living species of shepherds are known.

Modern species:

  • Crackling Shepherd (Rallus longirostris)
  • Royal Shepherd (Rallus elegans)
  • Venezuelan Shepherd Boy (Rallus wetmorei)
  • Central American Shepherd (Rallus limicola)
  • Colombian Shepherd Boy (Rallus semiplumbeus)
  • Magellan's shepherd boy (Rallus antarcticus)
  • Water Shepherd (Rallus aquaticus)
  • Cape Shepherd (Rallus caerulescens)
  • Madagascar Shepherd (Rallus madagascariensis)

Extinct species:

  • Rallus eivissensis
  • Rallus sp. (Middle Miocene, Hungary)
  • Rallus lacustris (Late Pliocene, North America)
  • Rallus phillipsi (Late Pliocene, USA)
  • Rallus prenticei (Late Pliocene, North America)
  • Rallus sp. (Late Pliocene, USA)
  • Rallus auffenbergi (Middle Pleistocene, southeastern North America) - formerly Porzana
  • Rallus ibycus (Late Pleistocene, Bermuda)
  • Rallus recessus (Late Pleistocene, Bermuda)
  • Rallus natator (Pleistocene, Mexico) - formerly Epirallus
  • Rallus richmondi - including R. dubius