New York Natural Heritage Program
King Rail
Rallus elegans Audubon, 1834
King Rail Jim Rathert
Family: Rails, Gallinnules, and Coots (Rallidae)

State Protection: Threatened
A native species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future in New York (includes any species listed as federally Threatened by the United States). It is illegal to take, import, transport, possess, or sell an animal listed as Threatened, or its parts, without a permit from NYSDEC. 1) Any native species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future in New York. 2) Any species listed as threatened by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Federal Protection: Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act implements various treaties and conventions between the U. S. and Canada, Japan, Mexico and the former Soviet Union for the protection of migratory birds. Under this Act, taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds, including nests or eggs, is unlawful unless specifically permitted by other regulations.

State Rarity Rank: S1B
A State Rarity Rank of S1B means: Typically 5 or fewer breeding occurrences and very limited breeding acres, making it especially vulnerable in New York State.

Global Rarity Rank: G4
A Global Rarity Rank of G4 means: Apparently secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Did you know?
John James Audubon first called the King Rail the Freshwater Marsh Hen because of its preference for freshwater marshes. It is the largest of the North American rails. (Meanly 1969)

State Ranking Justification [-]
A rapid decline of King Rail populations has been noted in the northern portion of their range including in New York State where the species is considered a rare breeder. Habitat loss and degradation are the main reasons for the decline. Currently there are seven known breeding locations, mostly in the western and central portions of the state, with one record from southern Westchester County (New York State Natural Heritage Program 2007). There have also been several winter sightings in the central and western portions of the state. King Rails were observed nesting on Long Island in the early to middle 1900s but have not been observed nesting there during recent surveys, although several recent sightings have occurred during the winter (Hamilton 1925a, b, Kuerzi 1926, Gochfeld 1975, Levine 1998, New York State Breeding Bird Atlas 1985 and 2005).

Short-term Trends [-]

Long-term Trends [-]