Adult © Ryan Schain
Immature © Ryan Schain
Adult © Jay McGowan
Adult © Greg Cook

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.