Coturnicops noveboracensis - (Gmelin, 1789)
Yellow Rail
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Coturnicops noveboracensis (Gmelin, 1789) (TSN 176259)
French Common Names: râle jaune
Spanish Common Names: Polluela Amarilla
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100233
Element Code: ABNME01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 7769

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Gruiformes Rallidae Coturnicops
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Coturnicops noveboracensis
Taxonomic Comments: May constitute a superspecies with C. exquisitus (AOU 1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 25Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Widespread distribution centered in south-central and southeastern Canada; apparently rather rare in most areas, though this is partly because of difficulty in detection; known to be fairly common in some areas; evidently declining in some areas where habitat destruction is ongoing, but there are some significant areas of protected habitat.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3B,N4N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4B (13Feb2012)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S2N), Arkansas (SNA), California (S1S2), District of Columbia (SHN), Florida (SNA), Georgia (S3?), Illinois (SXB,S2N), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (S3S4N), Massachusetts (S1N), Michigan (S1S2), Minnesota (S3B), Mississippi (S2N), Missouri (SU), Montana (S3B), Nebraska (SNRN), New Jersey (SNRN), New York (SNRN), North Carolina (S2N), North Dakota (S2), Ohio (SX), Oregon (S1B), South Dakota (SUB), Texas (S3N), Virginia (SNRN), Wisconsin (S1B)
Canada Alberta (SU), British Columbia (S2B), Manitoba (S3S4B), New Brunswick (S1?B), Northwest Territories (S2B), Nunavut (S3B), Ontario (S4B), Quebec (S2S3B), Saskatchewan (S3B,S2M)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: SC (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Special Concern (27Nov2009)
Comments on COSEWIC: Relatively little is known about this small, secretive rail. It is primarily restricted to shallow, dense, grassy marshes and wet meadows. Most of its breeding range (about 90%) is in Canada. It is relatively uncommon in most areas; populations are most widespread and common in coastal areas of Hudson and James Bay in northern Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. It winters in shallow marshes that occur in a narrow band extending from Texas to the Carolinas. The species is close to meeting some criteria for Threatened status because of its relatively small population size, compressed wintering range, ongoing threats to breeding and wintering wetland habitats, and evidence for local declines in several parts of its breeding range.

Designated Special Concern in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2001 and in November 2009.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: locally from northwestern Alberta to central Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern New York (Gibbs, pers. comm.), Maine, and New Brunswick, south to southern Alberta, northeastern Montana, North Dakota, Michigan, southern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and New England; formerly south to southern Ohio and northern Illinois (Bookhout 1995). Nested formerly in eastern California, where current nesting is a possibility. Recently rediscovered nesting in southern Oregon (Stern et al. 1993). Formerly occurred in State of Mexico, Rio Lerma Valley (subspecies GOLDMANI) where last reported in 1964 (Bookhout 1995). NON-BREEDING: mostly on Coastal Plain in southeastern U.S. from Texas to North Carolina; scattered records in California from Humboldt to Riverside Counties (Bookhout 1995).

Area of Occupancy: 501-12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: This is purely a conjecture based on up to 10 hectares per breeding male (Bookhout, 1995). Assuming a population of 20,000 Yellow Rails of which half are males, this would equate to 1000 square kilometers of occupancy during the breeding season. This assumes no clumping of breeding territories obviously.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Difficult to estimate due to rail's secretive nature, but a total of more than 150 EOs were reported from the five states and provinces that provided this information in a 1993 survey. It is likely that there are many more EOs in territories that did not respond (e.g., Manitoba and Saskatchewan). Species is likely highly under-detected. Many new records in Minnesota as a result of intensive county inventories suggest that the scant records prior to these inventories were due to lack of detection.

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Probably more abundant than present records indicate. Birdlife International estimates 10,000 to 25,000 individuals (Birdlife International, 2014).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to many (13-125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: difficult to estimate. Based on the information number of known EOs and the fact that there likely many more EOs in other provinces, an estimate of at least 13 good EOs is probably not an overestimate.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The major threats are nesting habitat destruction due to coastal development, natural succession, and wetland destruction. The breeding grounds are used for hay and pastures. Light agricultural use is beneficial, whereas intensive grazing removes needed cover. Hunting is a threat of unknown dimensions, especially in the mid-Atlantic coastal zone (Gibbs, pers. comm.). In Minnesota, habitat is threatened by agriculture and gamebird management activities (Coffin and Pfannmuller 1988). The timing of flooding for waterfowl management differs from the natural flooding cycle of the migratory habitat of the rails (Rundle and Fredrickson 1981). Johnson and Dinsmore (1986) reported that waterfowl management can be compatible with breeding rails. In Mississippi, urbanization, development of the coastal zone, and stream alteration projects have lowered the water table and destroyed marshes.
In Illinois, a public viewing area used once a week by humans 229 m from a rookery did not cause any overt responses from nesting birds (DeMauro 1993). See Vos (1984) for information on response to human disturbance in Colorado. Predators may include the red fox (VULPES VULPES), mink (MUSTELA spp), raccoon (PROCYON LOTOR), snakes, turtles, crows (CORVUS spp), gulls (LARUS spp), hawks, owls, eagles, rats, opossum (DIDELPHIS VIRGINIANA), striped skunk (MEPHITIS MEPHITIS), river otter (LUTRA CANADENSIS), coyote (CANIS LATRANS) and bobcat (LYNX RUFUS).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Information on population trends and historic data is scant due to difficulty of detecting birds. Becoming rare in some parts of its range, but is still common in others. Declining in North Dakota and Mississippi.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Birdlife International reports a small and insignificant increase over the last 40 years bsed on Breeding Bird Census surveys and Christmas Bird Counts (Birdlife International, 2014).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable to not intrinsically vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Degradation of its breeding habitat due to draining of wetlands for agriculture makes this species vulnerable to further pouplation declines.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Its breeding habitat is often prime location for human developmet, making this species' key breeding requirements an increasingly rare commodity.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Determine current distribution, abundance, and population trend, especially in prairie states and coastal areas.

Protection Needs: Protect remaining habitat, especially coastal marshes and prairie pothole marshes. Discourage stream alteration projects that lower the water table in wetland rail habitat. Eddleman et al. (1988) made the following protection recommendations for North American rallids: enforce the 1985 Farm Act to protect wetlands from agricultural damage; accelerate U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquisition of wetlands with high elevational diversity and high percentage of emergent vegetation; resume congressional funding of the Accelerated Research Program for Migratory and Upland Game Birds that funds research on habitat management; institute a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hunting stamp for hunting rails and migratory game birds other than waterfowl to facilitate data collection and promote habitat protection.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: locally from northwestern Alberta to central Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern New York (Gibbs, pers. comm.), Maine, and New Brunswick, south to southern Alberta, northeastern Montana, North Dakota, Michigan, southern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and New England; formerly south to southern Ohio and northern Illinois (Bookhout 1995). Nested formerly in eastern California, where current nesting is a possibility. Recently rediscovered nesting in southern Oregon (Stern et al. 1993). Formerly occurred in State of Mexico, Rio Lerma Valley (subspecies GOLDMANI) where last reported in 1964 (Bookhout 1995). NON-BREEDING: mostly on Coastal Plain in southeastern U.S. from Texas to North Carolina; scattered records in California from Humboldt to Riverside Counties (Bookhout 1995).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CA, DC, FL, GA, IA, ILextirpated, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NY, OHextirpated, OR, SD, TX, VA, WI
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NT, NU, ON, QC, SK

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CA Merced (06047)*
MI Alger (26003), Chippewa (26033), Luce (26095)*, Mackinac (26097), Roscommon (26143), Schoolcraft (26153)*
MN Aitkin (27001), Becker (27005), Beltrami (27007), Benton (27009)*, Cass (27021), Clay (27027), Clearwater (27029), Cook (27031), Crow Wing (27035)*, Itasca (27061), Kanabec (27065), Kittson (27069), Lake of the Woods (27077), Mahnomen (27087), Marshall (27089), Mille Lacs (27095), Morrison (27097), Norman (27107), Otter Tail (27111), Pennington (27113), Pine (27115), Polk (27119), Roseau (27135), Sherburne (27141)*, St. Louis (27137), Stearns (27145)*, Todd (27153), Wadena (27159), Wilkin (27167)
MO Chariton (29041), Holt (29087), Lincoln (29113), Livingston (29117), Pike (29163), Stoddard (29207), Wayne (29223)
MS Forrest (28035)*, Harrison (28047), Jackson (28059), Lamar (28073)*, Pearl River (28109)*, Stone (28131)*
MT Roosevelt (30085)*, Sheridan (30091)
ND Benson (38005), Burke (38013), Grand Forks (38035), McHenry (38049), Mountrail (38061), Sheridan (38083), Stutsman (38093)
OR Klamath (41035), Lake (41037)
SD Faulk (46049)
WI Ashland (55003), Barron (55005), Bayfield (55007), Burnett (55013), Calumet (55015), Chippewa (55017), Door (55029), Douglas (55031), Forest (55041), Langlade (55067), Marinette (55075), Marquette (55077), Monroe (55081), Oconto (55083), Oneida (55085), Sawyer (55113), Vilas (55125)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Pascagoula (03170006)+*, Black (03170007)+*, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+, Lower Pearl. Mississippi (03180004)+*
04 Baptism-Brule (04010101)+, St. Louis (04010201)+, Beartrap-Nemadji (04010301)+, Bad-Montreal (04010302)+, Betsy-Chocolay (04020201)+*, Manitowoc-Sheboygan (04030101)+, Door-Kewaunee (04030102)+, Oconto (04030104)+, Peshtigo (04030105)+, Upper Fox (04030201)+, Wolf (04030202)+, Muskegon (04060102)+, Manistique (04060106)+, Carp-Pine (04070002)+
07 Mississippi Headwaters (07010101)+, Leech Lake (07010102)+, Prairie-Willow (07010103)+, Elk-Nokasippi (07010104)+, Pine (07010105)+, Crow Wing (07010106)+, Redeye (07010107)+, Long Prairie (07010108)+, Platte-Spunk (07010201)+, Clearwater-Elk (07010203)+*, Rum (07010207)+, Upper St. Croix (07030001)+, Snake (07030004)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Upper Chippewa (07050001)+, Flambeau (07050002)+, Lower Chippewa (07050005)+, Red Cedar (07050007)+, Upper Wisconsin (07070001)+, Castle Rock (07070003)+, The Sny (07110004)+, Salt (07110007)+
08 Lower St. Francis (08020203)+
09 Lower Souris (09010003)+, Upper Red (09020104)+, Buffalo (09020106)+, Eastern Wild Rice (09020108)+, Devils Lake (09020201)+, Upper Sheyenne (09020202)+, Sandhill-Wilson (09020301)+, Red Lake (09020303)+, Thief (09020304)+, Clearwater (09020305)+, Grand Marais-Red (09020306)+, Turtle (09020307)+, Snake (09020309)+, Lower Red (09020311)+, Two Rivers (09020312)+, Roseau (09020314)+, Big Fork (09030006)+, Rapid (09030007)+, Lake of the Woods (09030009)+
10 Big Muddy (10060006)+, Brush Lake closed basin (10060007)+, Lake Sakakawea (10110101)+, Apple (10130103)+, Snake (10160008)+, Tarkio-Wolf (10240005)+, Nodaway (10240010)+, Lower Grand (10280103)+
17 Little Deschutes (17070302)+, Summer Lake (17120005)+
18 Williamson (18010201)+, Sprague (18010202)+, Upper Klamath Lake (18010203)+, Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040001)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small marsh bird (rail).
General Description: A small buffy rail with very secretive habits (Peterson 1980). White wing patch noticeable in flight. Has a very short greenish bill and a striped, checkered back with buff and black (Peterson 1980). The male's bill turns black after the breeding season. Weight 50-55 g; 15 to 19 cm (6 to 7.5 inches) long; wingspan 25 to 33 cm (10 to 13 inches) (Evers 1990). Males are generally larger than females.

Both the male and female are capable of calling. The calls consist of a long, continued series of pairs and triplets of "ticks" (Savaloja 1981). The female has a variety of calls used when protecting young. A "rowr" is used when the nest is disturbed, a whining may be used to attract young, and moans may be given when brooding (Savaloja 1981). Males call during northward migration and females do not. During the pre-incubation period the males will give their calls nightly for hours, stopping for only a few minutes each hour. Calling continues (at lower levels) during and after incubation but generally ends in mid-August.

The chicks have a pink bill and are black in color. The bill fades and eventually becomes black in its juvenile stage. Juveniles are darker than adults and have white barred breast areas and distinctive spots on the head. Young chicks and juveniles give various sounds described as "wees" and "peeps" (Savaloja 1981).

Diagnostic Characteristics: Small size; striped yellow and black above with small white crossbars; in flight shows a large white patch on trailing edges of wings; bill short and thick. Call is a four- or five-note tik-tik, tik-tik-tik, in alternate twos and threes (National Geographic Society 1999).
Reproduction Comments: Sexual activity usually takes place in the late morning hours. Lay six to ten eggs per clutch (Savaloja 1981, Brewer et al. 1991) with eight being the average. In Minnesota and North Dakota eggs are laid in late May and early June (Savaloja 1981). Incubation begins after the last egg is laid and lasts 13 to 20 days (Harrison 1979, Savaloja 1981). Female incubates and does not leave the nest at night during this time. Within one day of hatching the young leave the nest and are cared for by female. The young can feed on their own at 11 days (Stenzel 1983). Fledge at five weeks (Stahlhelm 1974). Renesting may occur if initial nests are destroyed or unsuccessful.
Ecology Comments: Male territories are an average of 7.8 ha (19 acres), and are established within one week of their arrival (Bookhout and Stenzel 1987). Territories may encompass multiple female activity areas. The activity areas used by females average 1.2 ha (3 acres) during pre-incubation, decreasing to 0.3 ha (0.7 acres) during incubation (Bookhout and Stenzel 1987). Adult birds are flightless for several weeks during molting (mid- to late August) (Savaloja 1981).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Generally arrives on northern nesting range in March-April (Terres 1980).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Herbaceous wetland
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Emergent wetlands, grass or sedge marshes and wet meadows in freshwater situations. Some breeding territories in these wet meadows contain firm footing and only a few remnant pools of water (Berkey 1991). These areas can range from damp to 38 cm (15 inches) of water but the average depth used for nesting is 8 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) (Savaloja 1981). Choose shallow water habitats over deep marsh zones. The vegetation ranges in height from about 5 to over 60 cm (2 to over 24 inches). This variation depends on the area and the time of year. In Minnesota, nest in large marshes composed of mixed sedge and bulrush, with cattails in deeper areas (Hanowski and Niemi 1990). The largest populations in North Dakota are in fens (bogs) with thick, soft mats of dead vegetation (Berkey 1991). In Manitoba, the birds are found in small boggy areas (Savaloja 1981). In the Great Lakes Region, nearly exclusively associated with CAREX spp. (Evers 1990). In Michigan, nest sites predominantly among the sedge CAREX LASIOCARPA (Bart et al. 1984, Bookhout and Stenzel 1987, Brewer et al. 1991). In Maine, found in damp, low-lying areas with water depths of 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) in otherwise dried-out portions of floodplains with a senescent mat composed of previous year's sedge growth (Gibbs et al. 1991). Habitats in Maine contained low densities of sedge, rush, and grass stems compared to other areas. Birds will use freshly burned area for territories only if burned after they have arrived to the breeding area (Savaloja 1981). NON-BREEDING: grain fields in winter and when migrating. Winters in both freshwater and brackish marshes, as well as in dense, deep grass. During fall migration, will use many open habitats, from rice paddies to dry hayfields. Winters are spent in a variety of areas, including salt-marshes, grain fields, damp grassy meadows, and freshwater marshes. In the south, the bird winters in agricultural fields and occasionally in rice fields (Berkey 1991).
Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Reported foods include small snails, insects, seeds, grasses, and clover leaves (Terres 1980). Vegetation and invertebrates are the most common foods. Most of the feeding activity takes place during the daytime, and when searching for food in water the birds have been seen with their heads 1.5 inches under the water (Savaloja 1981). In Minnesota rails feed on the snail SUCCINEA RETUSA (Savaloja 1981). Adults will feed on snails and small invertebrates found in dry grass, and seeds, grasses, and clover leaves found in sedge marshes. When the young are being reared, snails are an important food resource.
Phenology Comments: Although rails call frequently throughout the day and extensively throughout the night, these birds are not actively nocturnal. During the nighttime they are sedentary. During the day they actively feed and do most of their nest-building. Migration occurs primarily during the night. In the fall the birds are silent and very difficult to locate, in the spring they are much easier to find.
Length: 18 centimeters
Weight: 52 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Hunting season has been closed since 1968 (Eddleman et al. 1988).
Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Ranges from Canada through northern U.S. and winters in southern U.S. (Peterson 1980). Although populations have likely declined due to habitat alteration and destruction, information on current status and past trends for this species is not available. If existing populations and their habitats are monitored and protected and if unoccupied suitable habitat is protected, populations may be maintained.
Restoration Potential: Able to occupy new habitat as it becomes available (Robbins 1991). If wetlands habitat is protected and monitored, then this species may be maintained. Can inhabit areas that have been burned and are free of excessive woody vegetation and urbanization.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: The breeding habitat should consist of wetlands, grass or sedge marshes, and wet meadows. Vegetation in this area should range from 5 to 60 cm (2 to over 24 inches) (Berkey 1991) and the degree of wetness should range from damp to 38 cm (15 inches) of water (Savaloja 1981). In Michigan it is essential that CAREX spp. be present. The nesting areas should be at least eight ha for males to establish territories, which may overlap. Females need an area of two ha or more for establishing activity areas. Nesting habitat must contain some dead vegetation available for building the nest. Quality of the feeding habitat depends primarily on the availability and accessibility of prey items. A preserve must include enough habitat to support sufficient prey populations. It is important that snails, insects, seeds, and grasses are available for foraging.
Management Requirements: It is crucial that wetland habitats are maintained. Management of this habitat should include restrictions on wetland draining and coastal development that eliminate breeding sites, and the restriction of stream alteration projects that lower the water table in wetland habitat. Other management factors include vegetation succession, changes in hydrology, and human-disturbance.

Water level management is crucial to maintain the required sedge- and grass-dominated plant cover (Gibbs et al. 1991). Extensive draining and ditching of wetlands can be harmful because it can eliminate breeding sites completely.

Woody vegetation reduces the suitability of wetland habitat. In northern Michigan, prescribed and controlled burns serve to rejuvenate sedge growth, prevent the buildup of dead vegetation, limit woody growth, and impede the establishment of boreal flora (such as sphagnum moss and willows) (Evers 1990). While dead grass and sedges are used for nest platforms and as cover, excessive buildup can act as a wick for evaporation and will eventually fill up the marsh (Savaloja 1981). In Minnesota, if a marsh is burned before rails have arrived in the breeding area, they will use available unburned areas instead, but if burning is done after they have arrived, they will use the freshly burned marsh (Savaloja 1981). In northern Michigan, burning may prove to be a beneficial management tool, but is not recommended in the northeast because too many other rare species are associated with the sedge meadows where rails are found (Gibbs pers. comm.).

Because livestock grazing can lead to loss of cover, trampling, and disturbance of nesting pairs, it should be eliminated or reduced to a very low level in breeding areas (Eddleman et al. 1988).

Monitoring Requirements: Current sites (breeding and wintering) and habitats occupied by these birds should be monitored. Infrared photography can be used to help identify habitat. Densities can be calculated by using the strip-transect procedure or spot mapping via triangulation (Bookhout, pers. comm.). See Bart et al. (1984) for information on survey methods. More intensive surveys are needed in Maine and in the Northeastern United States.
Management Research Needs: Life history information including breeding biology and demographics would be beneficial for future management programs. Also, if natural water level fluctuations could be understood, this would be an important factor for supporting populations over the long-term. Investigate the effects of livestock grazing on winter habitat (Eddleman et al. 1988).
Biological Research Needs: Research on migratory routes, natural water level fluctuations, and behavior is needed. A more definitive determination of the status and distribution in Maine and elsewhere in the Northeastern U.S. is needed (Gibbs et al. 1991).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Rails

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: The high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by fairly large distances makes it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for rails; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Little information available, but most rails appear to have very small breeding home ranges: Clapper Rail, varies from an average of 0.4 hectares in California and Louisiana (Zembal et al. 1989) to 3.6 hectares (incubating males) in Arizona; Eddleman 1989); Sora, average of 0.19 ha during brood-rearing (Johnson and Dinsmore 1985). Dispersal distances are poorly known but surely extend at least a few kilometers.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Notes: Includes all species in the family Rallidae.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of traditional occurrence (including historical); minimally a reliable observation of 10 or more wintering or resident individuals in appropriate habitat (for rare taxa can be minimally one individual). Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events outside the normal distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distances are arbitrary and attempt to balance the general sedentary nature of these birds with their capability to disperse significant distances across suitable and unsuitable habitat.

Nonbreeding home ranges are relatively small. In Arizona, home ranges of non-breeding Clapper Rails significantly larger than breeding home ranges; varied from 21.0 hectares (August-October females) to 24.0 hectares (winter males; Eddleman 1989); elsewhere home ranges considerably smaller (Zembal et al. 1989). Soras wintering in Arizona had average home range sizes of 0.78 hectares (Conway 1990). Even at the northern end of their wintering range (British Columbia), Virginia Rails can persist in spring-fed marshes less than 1 ha in extent (R. J. Cannings, pers. comm.)

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Apr2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jennings, R., B. Van Dam, J. D. Soule, and G. Hammerson
Management Information Edition Date: 30Sep1993
Management Information Edition Author: VAN DAM, B.; REVISIONS BY R. JENNINGS, J.D. SOULE, G. HAMMERSON, M.T. KOENEN, AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: The author thanks all the state Heritage Program personnel who responded to requests for information: Massachusetts - Kelly Slater; Florida - Katy NeSmith; Rhode Island - Rick Enser; Kansas - Bill Busby; New York - Paul Novak; Minnesota - Mary Miller; North Dakota - Randy Kreil; California - Darlene McGriff; Mississippi - Tom Mann; Tennessee Valley Authority - Charles Nicholson; Iowa - Daryl Howell; Texas - Dean Keddy-Hector; New Jersey - Rick Dutko; Alabama - Mark Bailey; North Carolina - Harry LeGrand; Indiana - Michelle Martin; Wisconsin - Karen Gaines; Louisiana - Steve Shively; Kentucky - Brainard Palmer-Ball; Nevada - Glenn Clemmer; Ohio - Dan Rice; Arkansas - Bill Shepherd; New Mexico - Tina Carlson; Arizona - Barry Spicer; Nebraska - Mary Clausen; Alaska - Ed West; Georgia - Jon Ambrose; South Dakota - Eileen Dowd Stukel; Tennessee - Bob Hatch; Maryland - Lynn Davidson; Missouri - Jim Wilson; Illinois - Vernon Kleen; South Carolina - John Cely; Oregon - Mark Stern; Guy Jolicoeur of Le Centre De Donnees Sur Le Patrimoine Natural Du Quebec. James P. Gibbs of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Theodore A. Bookhout of the Ohio Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit reviewed an earlier draft and provided suggestions that added to the final document.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 14Jan1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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