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Clapper Rail

Rallus crepitans ORDER: GRUIFORMES FAMILY: RALLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The large Clapper Rail is abundant in saltwater marshes and mangrove swamps from the U.S. East Coast to Central America and the Caribbean. This secretive bird lives most of its life concealed in dense vegetation. In 2014, the species was split into three: Clapper Rail; Ridgway's Rail of California, Arizona, and Nevada; and Mangrove Rail of South America.

Appearance

Shorebirdlike
Shorebirdlike
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized, chicken-like marsh bird.
  • Compact body.
  • Short tail.
  • Strong legs.
  • Long, slightly down-curved bill.
  • Rounded wings.
  • Gray or reddish; considerable variation in plumage color within many subspecies.
  • Dull stripes on flanks.
  • Males average larger than females, but the sexes are alike in plumage.

Immature Description

Downy chick black, with pied bill. Juvenile similar to adult, but marking indistinct and with variable amount of black on sides.

Range Map Help

Clapper Rail Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

Similar Species

Ridgway's Rail is very similar but does not overlap geographically (occurs on Pacific Coast of U.S. and Mexico). Ridgway's Rail and Clapper Rail (plus Mangrove Rail) were considered the same species until 2014. King Rail is very similar, but generally is more reddish, face more rusty, and flank stripes more distinct. Virginia Rail is smaller, is bright reddish, and has brighter colored bill, and distinctly gray cheeks and face.

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