The Water Rail is a very small wetland bird that can be found throughout England near rivers, on the edges of lakes and ponds and in dense reedbeds and marshes. It is a very secretive bird that hides in dense waterside vegetation. It is more likely to be heard than seen because one of its distinctive calls sounds like a pig squealing.
The Water Rail has a very long red beak and orange-red coloured eyes. It also has quite long legs and toes which trail behind when the Water Rail is in flight. It has a blue-grey face, throat and belly and the top part of its body is a chestnut-brown colour with darker brown markings. Its sides are streaked with brown and white feathers and its short tail has white feathers underneath.
Water Rails usually walk very cautiously and often flick their tails when they feel uneasy. When they feel afraid, they bend their heads down and run very quickly to the safety of cover. Water Rails look for food on land and in water and often swim short distances when looking for small fish, freshwater shrimps, snails, frogs and watercress. On land they look for berries, fruit, plant shoots, roots of plants and sometimes small birds and even dead birds. They also eat insects and insect larvae.