Clapper Rail

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Clapper Rail
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Rallus
Species: R. longirostris
Binomial name
Rallus longirostris
Boddaert, 1783

The Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris) is a member of the rail family, Rallidae. Some researchers believe that this bird and the similar King Rail are a single species; the two birds are known to interbreed.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is found along the east coast of North America, the coasts and some islands of the Caribbean, and across northern South America to eastern Brazil. On the west coast, it breeds from central California through Mexico and south to northwestern Peru.

Despite this wide range, numbers of the Clapper Rail are now very low on the United States' west coast, because of destruction of the coastal marshland habitat. The largest population of the western subspecies, California Clapper Rail, R. l. obsoletus, numbering somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 birds,[2] is in San Francisco Bay; there is a small inland population along the Colorado River. On the US east coast, populations are stable, although the numbers of this bird have declined due to habitat loss.

Subspecies R. l. saturatus
Lakeland, Florida


The Clapper Rail is a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies. It is grayish brown with a pale chestnut breast and a noticeable white patch under the tail. Its bill curves slightly downwards. The Trinidadian subspecies R. l. pelodromus is more heavily marked with black above.



These birds eat crustaceans, aquatic insects, and small fish. They search for food while walking, sometimes probing with their long bills, in shallow water or mud.


The twig nest is placed low in mangrove roots, and 3-7 purple-spotted buff eggs are laid.


External links[edit]