New York Natural Heritage Program
King Rail
Rallus elegans Audubon, 1834
Birds

Habitat [-]
During the breeding season, the King Rail inhabits fresh and brackish marshes in the southwestern and southeastern portions of the state that are fairly shallow (0-25 cm of water) and have well developed areas of emergent vegetation. During the winter months, King Rails can be spotted in the coastal salt marshes in the lower Hudson Valley and around Long Island. (Eddleman et al. 1988, Levine 1998)

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Freshwater intertidal mudflats
    A sparsely vegetated community characterized by low rosette-leaved aquatics. This community occurs on exposed intertidal mudflats where the water is fresh (salinity less than 0.5 ppt). This community is best developed where mudflats are nearly level so that broad expanses are exposed at low tide. The plants are completely submerged in 0.9 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft) of water at high tide and they are usually coated with mud.
  • Freshwater intertidal shore
    A community of the intertidal gravelly or rocky shores of freshwater tidal rivers and creeks, sometimes occurring at the base of cliffs. The vegetation may be very sparse.
  • Freshwater tidal marsh
    A marsh community that occurs in shallow bays, shoals, and at the mouth of tributaries of large tidal river systems, where the water is usually fresh (salinity less than 0.5 ppt), and less than 2 m (6 ft) deep at high tide. Typically there are two zones in a freshwater tidal marsh: a low-elevation area dominated by short, broadleaf emergents bordering mudflats or open water, and a slightly higher-elevation area dominated by tall grass-like plants.
  • Freshwater tidal swamp
    A forested or shrub-dominated tidal wetland that occurs in lowlands along large river systems characterized by gentle slope gradients coupled with tidal influence over considerable distances. The swamp substrate is always wet and is subject to semidiurnal flooding by fresh tidal water (salinity less than 0.5 ppt).
  • Inland salt marsh*
    A wetland that occurs on saline mudflats associated with inland salt springs. The mucky substrate is permanently saturated and seasonally flooded. Plant cover is sparse and the number of different kinds of plants is relatively low.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Shallow emergent marsh
    A marsh meadow community that occurs on soils that are permanently saturated and seasonally flooded. This marsh is better drained than a deep emergent marsh; water depths may range from 6 in to 3.3 ft (15 cm to 1 m) during flood stages, but the water level usually drops by mid to late summer and the soil is exposed during an average year.
  • Tidal river*
    The aquatic community of a river under the influence of daily lunar tides. We restrict this community to the continuously flooded portions of the river where plants do not grow out of the water. A deepwater zone has depths averaging more than 2 m (6 ft) at low tide. Salinities at any one place in the river may fluctuate as the tides flow in and out.

    * probable association but not confirmed

Associated Species [-]
  • Sora (Porzana carolina)
  • Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)
  • Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris)