Rallus longirostris Photo Travis Blunden ©
Clapper rails are strictly coastal species, preferring brackish and saltwater marshes. They are found throughout Florida’s coastal marshes and mangroves, where they hunt on the exposed mud flats for small crabs, shrimp, mollusks and insects. Their long powerful bills are well suited for probing the mudflats for insects and mollusks.
Clapper rails nest in the higher portions of the marsh. The nest is a platform of grasses with a protective canopy of vegetation arching over the deeply cupped basket. They lay large clutches of 8-11 eggs.
Clapper rails are the most easily seen of the rail family, but they are best located by their loud “Kek-kek-kek” call that is often heard at dusk and dawn. These rails respond by calling back when a tape-recorded rail call is played, and biologists take advantage of this behavior to survey this secretive bird.
top of page | back to birds