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Help with Southern Texas, USA birds (1) (1 Viewer)

Lisa W

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I have stumbled across a number of photos from a trip to Southern Texas in 2015. Will be posting them over the next few weeks for help with IDs. As always thank you in advance for any help.

I think the first is a Sora and the second some type of Rail(?).
 

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Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Agree with Sora Lisa and I think the other is a King Rail or Clapper (edit again apologies !) 😁 Checking some online images, it actually looks better for Virginia Rail (I’d forgotten about that one)

Nice images btw!
 
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Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Overall body length, long bill and facial pattern suggest Clapper for me.

Stu
That’s what I put originally then started second guessing myself when I saw some of the Virginia and King Rail images - note to self, don’t browse online images after making an ID! 😗

There’s a lot of regional variation - the flanks looked very boldly barred black and white
There also seems to be a lot of intraspecifiv variation in bill length so I am wondering in all 3 species there is sexual dimorphism?


as in Virginia https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/31446201
which then started to throw me and the cheeks look very grey but I did note the bill and body length.

 
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tom baxter

Well-known member
That is most definitely a King Rail with the rich orange underparts. Virginia Rail is similar but the bill is too long and not quite as deep orange as usual for Virginia. Compare this ebird link. They can really overlap a lot with Clapper Rails, but the orange extending way up the neck seems to strongly suggest King Rail to me.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Lisa, are you sure that is the same individual?

I agree habitat would be helpful (Clappers prefer saltwater afair) but I think there’s overlap?

I am not sure that white throat is a feature of King Rails is it?
 
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Microtus

Maryland USA (he/him)
Supporter
United States
Gulf coast Clapper Rails are more brightly colored than Atlantic coast birds. The eastern Sibley guide shows a whitish throat on both female King and (sex not stated) Gulf coast Clapper.

Clappers and Kings hybridize to some extent where their ranges overlap. I suspect that neither hybridize with Virginia.
 

stuartelsom

Well-known member
Hi Tom,

I'm not questioning your expertise, after all you are based in USA, and I only work there occasionally, but I have always understood that individuals showing an extensively grey face being more indicative of Clapper. The much richer orange on the foreneck combined with more sharply defined upperpart streaking being key features to look for on King.

The bird in question (2nd pic) to me shows more of the former, although my field experience of King is confined to Texas, so I'm happy to learn more.

Interesting bird for sure.

Stu
 

tom baxter

Well-known member
It actually does look more like a gulf coast Clapper Rail. I didn't realize they were that much more rufous than the Atlantic coast race. The back streaking does look a little bit darker than the prototypical Clapper though. Clapper from texas in the link. The OP bird has a gray face that is more in line with Clapper, as noted by others, and perhaps that is the strongest indicator. I'm not sure how variable the back streaking is, but with these species, any degree of variation begins to introduce tremendous difficulty in identifying them to species confidently.
 
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Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Gulf coast Clapper Rails are more brightly colored than Atlantic coast birds
That would explain it - my experience with Clappers is even less than Stu’s and limited to a few while visiting relatives on the East Coast of Florida (nr Palm Beach) and although it was years ago, I don’t remember them being this boldly marked.
 

Lisa W

Moderator
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Do you remember where you photographed the rail?
They are in a folder I titled South Padre Island, Apr 15, 2015.
Lisa, are you sure that is the same individual?

I agree habitat would be helpful (Clappers prefer saltwater afair) but I think there’s overlap?

I am not sure that white throat is a feature of King Rails is it?

I thought so when I posted it, but now am not sure. And the original time is not available. They were on 2 different ends of the folder so could very well be 2 different birds.
 

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