NT
King Rail Rallus elegans



Justification

Justification of Red List Category
This newly-split rail is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline, approaching 30% over 14 years (three generations), owing primarily to the loss, modification and degradation of wetland habitats, and the effects of pesticide use.

Population justification
The population of elegans is estimated at 104,000-105,000 individuals, and that of ramsdeni 500-999 individuals (Wetlands International 2014).

Trend justification
The species is in decline owing mainly to the loss, fragmentation and degradation of wetland habitats (Cooper 2008). Qualitative observations and Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data are indicative of declines across most of the species’s range in the USA, although caution is advised in using BBS data, as the methods and coverage of these surveys may not provide the most reliable data for this species (reviewed by Cooper 2008). Overall, a moderately rapid population decline, approaching 30% over 14 years (three generations), is suspected.

Distribution and population

Rallus elegans (incorporating ramsdeni) is a widespread and mostly migratory inhabitant of freshwater and brackish wetlands, including modified areas, in eastern Canada and the USA North America, eastern Mexico and Cuba (Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

Ecology

Freshwater and locally brackish marshes, successional stages of marsh-shrub swamp, rice fields, flooded farmland, river margins, and upland fields near marshes. Occasionally in salt-marsh during migration (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Threats

Severe declines have been evident in northern part of range since the 1940s, mainly as result of loss, modification and degradation of wetland habitats, and pesticide use. Populations in southern USA appear more stable. Birds often killed in muskrat traps, and are frequent road casualties when forced to move during floods in breeding season. Current status of race ramsdeni not clear (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway A conservation plan exists (Cooper 2008).

Conservation and research actions proposed Survey wetlands throughout the range to obtain population and trend estimates. Clarify scale and severity of threats. Protect wetland habitats within its range.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Wheatley, H.

Contributors
Cooper, T.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Rallus elegans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2019.