Rails live in a wide variety of habitats, including wetland, grassland, scrub, and forest. Wetlands have the largest number of rail species, although many species are also found in rainforests. Both freshwater and coastal saltwater wetlands are used by rails. Coots are the most aquatic rails and live in freshwater habitats such as lakes and ponds. Rails that live in forested areas can inhabit diverse forest types with almost any type of ground cover, either clear, with leaf litter, with mud, or covered with dense vegetation.

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