The Clapper rail is a large ground-dwelling bird that rarely flies and spends all its life in dense marsh vegetation. It is grayish-brown with a pale chestnut breast and a noticeable white patch under the tail. Its bill curves slightly downwards.
Clapper rails are found along the Atlantic coasts of the eastern U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, eastern Mexico, some Caribbean islands, and south through eastern Central America, as well at several inland locales. They live mainly in salt marshes but also can be found in the brackish marsh and mangrove swamps.
Clapper rails are diurnal being most active in the early morning and late evening. They spend most of their lives on the ground hiding in dense vegetation. They move by walking, running, and may occasionally climb into tall vegetation. These birds also swim well and may even dive when they sense any danger. They can sometimes form loose colonies but when foraging and during the breeding season Clapper rails are territorial. They search for food while walking, sometimes probing with their long bills, in shallow water or mud. In order to communicate with each other they use clicks, 'kek' calls and grunting outbursts.
Clapper rails are omnivores. These birds eat crabs, crustaceans, aquatic insects, small fish, and eggs. They also eat seeds and vegetation at times, especially during winter and summer months.
These birds are serially monogamous and pairs stay bonded during the breeding season. They nest on the bank near the water, in mangrove roots, or even on floating mats of vegetation. The female lays 3 to 7 purple-spotted buff eggs and both parents incubate them for 20-23 days. The chicks hatch fully developed, covered with black down, and are able to leave the nest within one day. They usually fledge at the age of 9 to 10 weeks.
The main threats to Clapper rails include habitat loss due to land development and degradation and pollution of the wetlands.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Clapper rail total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on The IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.