Date: 9/29/17 10:38 am From: 'Bailey, Steven D' <sdbailey...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...> Subject: Re: IBET King/Clapper Rail - Waukegan Beach
I have to admit that the first thing I thought when I saw the photos of the very gray King/Clapper rail at Waukegan is, "that seems way too gray to be a King Rail". I have seen a few dozen King Rails in Illinois over the years, including this spring in Iroquois County (but few Clappers, elsewhere). One of the first things that did seem apparent was that the bill showed virtually no yellow or orangish, which to me meant that it was likely a juvenile bird. Reading an article on the separation between the two species, there are several things to consider (throat color, amount of distinct back streaking, crispness of the white streaks in the black/blackish area of the belly, presence of gray on neck, etc.). Taking these into consideration (given what can be seen well in the Waukegan rail photos), I would also go with juvenile King Rail. One thing that is probably especially noticeable about the Waukegan rail is that the white streaking in the blackish belly is especially bright/crisp, probably ruling out Clapper Rail just on that aspect alone.
Interestingly, this isn't the only occurrence of a rail in the Chicagoland area strongly resembling a Clapper Rail. Longtime Chicago and Lake Calumet area birder Jim Landing wrote of a bird that he observed in the Heron Pond portion of Lake Calumet in both the summers of 1986 and 1987, in an article he wrote for the then Illinois birding journal, Illinois Birds & Birding, that strongly resembled a Clapper Rail. Though very short on details of the bird, he did mention that longtime birding expert in the Chicago area (& later in Texas) Charlie Clark was back in Illinois and got to see the 1987 bird, and thought it looked like a Clapper Rail. (Clark was one of several Chicagoland birders who saw the Large-billed Tern that showed up at Lake Calumet in 1949... one of only 2 U.S. records). Landings article, "Mystery Birds in Chicagoland" (Vol.6, No.3, Jul-Sept. 1990), brought up some interesting ideas about several birds species, found... and several that have yet to be found, in Illinois. Good birding!
Mundelein (Lake County)