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Ridgway's Rails on San Francisco Bay

Listen for jolting notes, like a small engine cranking up . . .
© Edwin Mercado View Large

Once abundant around San Francisco Bay, the Ridgway’s Rail — formerly known as the California Clapper Rail — is now endangered. In the 19th Century, unregulated hunting plundered the species. In the 20th Century, rampant development reduced salt marsh habitat by 85%. But in the 21st Century, the Ridgway’s Rail has allies. Restoration is under way to increase healthy saltmarsh habitat for these endangered birds. Also, efforts to control the number of predatory cats are improving the chances for the Ridgway’s Rail to survive.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®  

Ridgway Rails on San Francisco Bay

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Ridgway’s Rail loud calls, clacking notes leading to oinking call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/210533]

In a salt marsh near San Francisco, a loud clatter erupts from the dense vegetation. These jolting notes, like a small engine cranking up, are the voice of a Ridgway’s Rail.

[Ridgway’s Rail loud calls, clacking notes leading to oinking call]

The secretive bird peeks out from the edge of the marsh grass. First, the long red bill appears, followed by the cinnamon-colored breast and white striped flanks. The rail takes a step forward on long yellow legs, revealing a stubby, upturned tail. Picture a slim, tawny chicken – but with the bill and legs of a sandpiper, and a singular voice to match its eccentric appearance.

[Ridgway’s Rail calls]

Once abundant around San Francisco Bay, the Ridgway’s Rail — formerly known as the California Clapper Rail — is today endangered. In the 19th Century, unregulated hunting plundered the species. In the 20th Century, rampant development reduced salt marsh habitat by 85%.

But in the 21st Century, the Ridgway’s Rail has allies. Restoration is under way to increase healthy saltmarsh habitat for the scarce birds. Also, efforts to control the number of predatory cats are improving the chances for the Ridgway’s Rail to survive.

[The calls of several Ridgway’s Rails]

You can see photos of this bird when you come to our website, BirdNote.org.

###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 210533 recorded by Bruce Rideout, 103224 recorded by M. Medlar.
Producer: John Kessler        Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org  January 2016 / 2019 Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#        CRRA-01-2017- 23  CRRA-01  (was CLRA-01)   

http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/science/watchlist/clapper_rail.html: ABC link
http://www.fws.gov/desfbay/Archives/Clapper/carail.htm: excellent species summary and discussion of restoration projects under way; current to 2010
http://wildequity.org/species/4: more on conservation, including cat problem

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