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Clapper Rail

Rallus crepitans


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. Males average larger than females, but the sexes are alike in plumage. Medium-sized, chicken-like marsh bird; compact body; short tail; strong legs; long, slightly down-curved bill; rounded wings; gray or reddish; dull stripes on flanks.


Clapper rails live in saltmarshes with extensive vegetation, which they use as refuges, especially at high tide. These birds prefer low portions of coastal wetlands dominated by cordgrass (spartina), pickleweed, mangroves, and other vegetation.

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James McNair
Spotted by
James McNair

Christmas, Florida, United States

Spotted on Apr 17, 2021
Submitted on Apr 22, 2021

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