King Rail, Rallus elegans. Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Seneca Co., NY, 2 June 2002.
All pictures were taken by my son Jay and me and are © Kevin J. McGowan. They were taken with an Olympus D-40 digital camera through a Swarovski HD-80 spotting scope.
King Rail has been absent from the Cayuga Lake Basin for many years. A calling bird right off the main building at Montezuma NWR was something to celebrate. We did not manage to see the bird, but we got some bad recordings of its call. (Turn your volume up high, because these are pretty weak!) We took these .wav files with our Olympus D-40 digital camera with its built-in microphone. The camera only takes 4 seconds of sound, but the rail called for minutes on end. You can get a sense of what the calls were like and how rapidly they were given.
Example 1 (32 kb .wav file). Example 2 (32 kb .wav file). Example 3 (32 kb .wav file).
The bird made long, long series of "Kek-kek-kek" calls. The notes were full-bodied and suggestive of the size of the bird (larger than Virginia Rail, Rallus limicola). They were very reminiscent of the calls of Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris) from the salt marshes, except the timber was slightly off and they went on for too long.
I stuck in a photo of the similar-appearing Clapper Rail I took in southern New Jersey this last May (10 May 2002), just to give you something to look at. I wish we had seen the King Rail even this well!
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