California Clapper Rail
(Rallus longirostris obsoletus)

HABITAT: The California clapper rail is commonly found among native and invasive cordgrass.  It prefers marsh channels, where it can hide from threats during low tide.  During high tide, the clapper rail gets pushed up to higher-zone wetland plants like alkali heath, gumplant and marsh coyote bush, where it takes shelter from predators.

DIET: The clapper rail eats mussels, clams, arthropods, snails, worms and small fish.  It feeds by probing and scavenging the surface with its long beak while walking.

PREDATORS: The clapper rail is eaten by larger birds like raptors, non-native red fox, and feral cats.  Non-native Norway rats  prey upon clapper rail eggs.

FUN FACTS: The rail was once nearly “served up” to extinction for early San Francisco settlers. It was hunted and served as a delicacy in restaurants. The rail is now protected against hunting; its threat today is Bay fill.


Photo by Rick Lewis