Rails and Crakes are mainly medium-sized, aquatic birds. They live in marsh vegeation, reed zones and lead a rather seclusive live. One can hear them much more often than it is actually possible to watch them. Basic description: podgy to plump body, short and round wings. Long legs and large feet. Most of the species are in decline apart from Eurasian Coot and Moorhen, which are still common to Europe.
Bustards are large, heavy birds with long legs, strong feet and long broad wings, they live terrestrial. They show white patterns in wings when flying. Slow gait. Very shy. These birds live on large plains, on grassy fields and open slopes, steppen and deserts with scrubs. Once rather common, they are still in decline and limited to few places in Europe only.
Below I provide the taxonomy of the species living in western Palearctic:
Family: Cranes Gruidae
Family: Bustards - Otididae
Family Rails and Crakes - Rallidae
Cranes are the most majestic birds on earth. I suppose that almost everyone who ever had the chance to watch these birds will arrive at this notion.
Basically, cranes are very large, slim birds with long legs, large feet and long neck. Straight medium-sized pointed bill. Their flight silhouette is similar to storks, and over large distances similar even to geese, especially when flying in formation. When flying they extend neck and legs are outstretched, always in V-formation. Cranes like soaring in thermals and fligh at high altitudes. During migration they feed in large flocks.
Cranes are mostly distributed across the Eurasian land mass, in central and eastern Asia, the Middle East and Africa (between Egypt and the South Africa). Only three species are distributed in the western Palearctic, the majority is native to central and eastern Asia:
Order: Cranes (Gruiformes)
Family: Cranes (Gruidae)
Sub-Family: Crowned Cranes (Balearicinae)
Genus: Crowned Cranes (Balerica)
Sub-Family: True Cranes (Gruinae)