Tuesday, July 9, 2013

King Rail (Rallus elegans)

King Rail (Rallus elegans)
The King Rail is the largest North American rail.  There has been one present at Allens Pond Audubon Sanctuary in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, for the past few weeks.  It was first identified as a Clapper Rail, but then was identified because of its coloration as a King Rail.  King Rails will forage during the day and their habitat of freshwater brackish marshes.  They blend in well with their surroundings.  Their prey includes crustaceans, fish fry, amphibians, insects, and then recedes the weeds and aquatic plants.  Rails are related to Coots and Gailinules.

Well, it is a Tuesday, and people who have been following my blog know it is the day that Doug and I go out birding and I do photography along with the birding.  On a previous birding trip a couple of years ago, Doug and I heard a King Rail in a marsh, on the Cumberland fields in Halifax, Massachusetts.  Searching my e-bird, had seen one in 1998 in the Everglades, but have never photographed one.  So our plan today was to hopefully visualize the King Rail, and for me to photograph it.  Arriving at the parking lot at Allens Pond, we can hear the King Rail, calling in the distance.  Upon arriving down on the area by the culvert, we met another birder, who had seen the King Rail.  The Rail started calling and suddenly made its appearance and put on a great show, allowing some great photographs.  The male advertising call is a harsh and loud kik-kik-kik and the contact call given by both sexes throughout the year is described as jupe-jupe-jupe, similar, but slower than the clapper rails call.  After we continued birding and returned the the Rail crossed the road from the pannes to the marsh and later came back again into the pannes.  On a previous day, another birder, spent the whole day before he saw the Rail.  I believe the reason that the Rail was very active was the weather was foggy and cooler than it has been.  In fact, many of the other bird species were very active.  How long the Rail will stay is an unknown question, but if you have never seen a King Rail, get down to Allens Pond Audubon Sanctuary in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and hopefully you will be able to see it.
King Rail (Rallus elegans)

King Rail (Rallus elegans) - Close-Up of Head

King Rail (Rallus elegans) - Walking through the Marsh

King Rail (Rallus elegans) - Why It Is Hard to See the Rail
Location Of the King Rail