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Gruiformes > Rallidae

Clapper Rail

Rallus crepitans

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Large, generally drab rail, but plumage variable depending on location. Can look very similar to King Rail. Atlantic coast birds dull grayish-brown overall with few contrasting features; faintly barred gray-and-white on sides and pale orange bill. Gulf Coast population brighter with orange neck, more similar to King Rail; note paler and more diffuse barring on sides and less contrasting dark streaks on back. Almost always found in saltmarshes close to the coast, where it can be abundant and vocal. Never in inland freshwater marshes, where replaced by King Rail. Usually shy, but regularly seen feeding along the edge of channels. Listen for series of harsh "kek" notes or loud, rasping grunts erupting from marsh. Sometimes hybridizes with King Rail where fresh and saltwater meet; some birds best left unidentified.



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Learn more about Clapper Rail from…

All About Birds

Your Online Guide To Birds And Bird Watching

Birds of North America

Comprehensive life histories of North American breeding birds

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Life histories of all species breeding in Mexico, Central America, and South America