Denizens of dense marshes, rails slip through low vegetation on foot, seldom flying. All have loud and distinctive voices but tend to call mainly at night. Few other birds are so elusive.
Two small species, Virginia Rail and Sora, are widespread in marshes across North America. Both are fairly common, but they’re so adept at staying out of sight that most birders encounter them first by voice. Fortunately, recordings of the birds are readily available today online or in apps, making it easy to learn their calls.