Water Rail Project

(Rallus aquaticus)


The main goal of this project is to have a global view of the breeding population present in the natural reserve “Schlammwiss” in Uebersyren (Luxemburg). As we want to focus on the breeding population, the period of research is restricted to the first of April until 31st of July and the study will be done over five years. In order to get efficient data, we will use two different methods.


 The first method consists in the use of traps; the traps will enable us to get information on the biometrics as well as information on the exact age of the local birds that were ringed in previous years. The location of these traps is fixed and won’t change for the following five years. Furthermore we chose the location in a way that the influence on the water rail is minimized.


The second method is based on sound monitoring; this monitoring will be similar to the monitoring used by R.K.B. Jenkins & S.J. Ormerod (2002) “Habitat preferences of breeding Water Rail Rallus aquaticus”[1]. The sound monitoring will start in the early hours of the morning and will end around 10 o’clock. In addition, as the natural reserve has a surface area of 120 hectares of which 20 hectares are reeds, we will play the sound for 30 seconds every 200 metres. If we get an immediate or a one-minute-delayed answer we will take it in consideration. If there is no answer, we will play the sound for another 30 seconds. If there is no answer after both sequences we will move to the next spot. As we want to focus on the breeding population we will choose a sound that attracts a response from the pair.

We will alternate these two methods in a periodic two-week cycle. Finally the main goal is to get information on the breeding population, but the results will also give us information about the precise biotope the water rails need to raise and to feed their chicks. Furthermore this research will allow us to demonstrate the importance of protected reserves and will be used to argue for their protection.


[1] R.K.B. Jenkins & S.J. Ormerod (2002) Habitat preferences of breeding Water Rail Rallus aquaticus:

Surveys using broadcast vocalizations during the breeding season found that Water Rail were significantly more abundant

at sites that contained the most wet reed Phragmites sp., Bird Study, 49:1, 2-10, DOI: 10.1080/00063650209461238