The King Rail is the largest of the North
American Rails. They are less shy than many of the rails, and can
sometimes be seen boldly foraging in open shallow waters. They are very
closely related to the Clapper Rail. While the King Rail is a primarily a
bird of fresh water and the Clapper Rail is primarily a bird of salt water, they
do often interbreed where the intermix on brackish near-coastal waters.
a variety of shallow fresh- and brackish-water habitats, provided dense cover is
Diet: Feeds heavily on aquatic insects, especially
beetles. Also feeds on crayfish, crabs, snails, clams, small fish, frogs,
and seeds of aquatic plants.
Behavior: Forages in shallow water, usually in and
around dense cover. However, they are often much less shy than other
rails, foraging out in the open and not particularly shy of a human
Breeding: Only a handful
of breeding records in South Dakota (SDOU, 2001).
Song: Sharp kek-kek-kek-kek.
Migration: Summers throughout much of the eastern
half of the United States. Birds in the northern part of its range
move southward to the southeastern U.S. in winter, while those at the
southern part of its range are permanent residents.
Conservation Status: Has declined in many areas due to habitat loss.
the King Rail as a species of "Least Concern". Populations remain
widespread, and they are locally common where suitable habitat remains.
Photo Information: Photo from Ohio, courtesy of Lana Hays