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Bird Gallery

King Rail

King Rail
King Rail

© Greg Lavaty

Rallus elegans

Family: (Rallidae) Rails, Gallinules, and Coots

Preferred Habitat: Freshwater marshes.

Seasonal Occurrence: Resident; uncommon all seasons.

Notes: Very similar to the Clapper Rail, but the color is usually a richer, warmer russet. The call is a distinctive, sharp kek, kek, kek, kek, kek which is usually shorter and more even than that of the Clapper Rail. Sexes look alike, but males are slightly larger. King Rails may hybridize with Clapper Rails. Birders often rely on the type of marsh (freshwater for King - saltwater for Clapper) as an identification clue, but this is not 100% effective. Like all rails, the King Rail is more often heard than seen and is secretive in nature. Most easily spotted at dawn and dusk when it may come out to feed. Wet roadside ditches in rural marshy areas can be very productive. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to look for King Rails in our area. King Rail numbers have declined sharply over the past 40 years, primarily due to the draining of wetlands.
- Susan Billetdeaux