Date: 6/10/18 3:58 pm From: Christopher Loscalzo via CTBirds <ctbirds...> Subject: [CT Birds] The King/Clapper Rail Conundrum
I did some further reading and learned the following: Male King and Clapper Rails make very similar "kek" calls as their mating call to attract females. The rate of making the calls tends to differ between the two species (they are felt to be distinct species, even though they interbreed where their ranges overlap), with the Clapper being faster (usually 4-5 keks/second) and the King being slower (2-3 keks/second). There is some variability though, so the distinction is not foolproof. But, a rapid kekking bird in a salt marsh is almost certainly a Clapper Rail and a slow kekking bird in a freshwater marsh is almost certainly a King Rail. Similarly, the grunt calls that both sexes make to communicate with one another in the marsh tends to be more rapid paced in the Clappers and slower in the Kings. The kek-burr call that I heard repeatedly in the Q marsh yesterday, that my limited knowledge and research suggested was unique to King Rails, is in fact a call that is made by females of both species. Apparently, they make this call when they've lost their mate and are trying to attract a new one. The call is indistinguishable between the two species. So, I will be reclassifying the bird we heard yesterday as King/Clapper Rail, species. Still a wonderful natural experience and it led to me learning something new about birds. Ours is a neverending learning experience!