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King Rail

Rallus elegans

Description:

The king rail is a waterbird, the largest North American rail. A chicken-sized marsh bird, the largest of our rails. Nesting in fresh-water marshes of the east, the King Rail has become an uncommon species as many wetlands have been drained. It remains locally common near the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, where it is not especially shy, often stalking about at the marsh edge in full view of observers. Closely related to the Clapper Rail, and may interbreed with it in zones where salt and fresh marshes meet.

Habitat:

Fresh and brackish marshes, rice fields, swamps. Sometimes salt marshes in winter. Will use a variety of habitats with shallow fresh or brackish water and dense cover. Important plants include cattails, bulrushes, spartina, and others. May be in brushy swamps with many willows, or in flooded rice fields.

Notes:

Feeding Behavior Mostly forages in shallow water, in or close to dense marsh cover. Large items (such as big crayfish or crabs) may be carried to solid ground and dismembered before being eaten. Eggs Usually 10-12, sometimes 6-14. Pale buff, lightly spotted with brown. Incubation is by both sexes, 21-23 days. Young: Downy young leave nest a few hours after hatching. Both parents feed young; after about 3 weeks, young start to pick up much of their own food. While young are small, adults may brood them at simple nest platforms near where they hatched. Young are able to make short flights at about 9-10 weeks. May have two broods per year in south. Young Downy young leave nest a few hours after hatching. Both parents feed young; after about 3 weeks, young start to pick up much of their own food. While young are small, adults may brood them at simple nest platforms near where they hatched. Young are able to make short flights at about 9-10 weeks. May have two broods per year in south. Diet Mostly insects and crustaceans. Diet includes many aquatic insects, especially beetles. Eats many crayfish and crabs, and sometimes many small fish. Also eats snails, clams, grasshoppers, frogs, spiders, and seeds of aquatic plants. Nesting In courtship, male walks about with tail raised, showing off white under tail coverts. Male may feed female. Nest site is in a clump of grass or sedges, usually about a foot above water or land. Nest (apparently built mostly by male) is a solid platform of grass, sedges, other marsh plants, with a canopy woven over the top and a ramp leading down from the entrance. Additional simpler nest platforms may be built nearby.

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4 Comments

James McNair
James McNair 6 months ago

Thank you Ashley I am honored to have been nominated

AshleyT
AshleyT 6 months ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

triggsturner
triggsturner 6 months ago

Any kind of rail is a good spot, you have got this one perfectly James.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Beautiful spotting, James.

James McNair
Spotted by
James McNair

Florida, USA

Lat: 28.58, Long: -81.00

Spotted on Dec 22, 2018
Submitted on Jan 1, 2019

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