Light-Footed Clapper Rail Light-Footed Clapper Rail
Light-Footed Clapper Rail

Scientific Classification

Common Name
light-footed clapper rail
Genus Species
Rallus longirostris levipes

Fast Facts

The Light-footed clapper rail is a hen-sized marsh bird that is long-legged with long toes. It has a slightly down-curved beak and a short, upturned tail. Males and females are identical in plumage. Their cinnamon breast contrasts with the streaked plumage of its grayish brown back and gray and white barred flanks.
35.6 to 40.6 cm (14 to 16 in.)
227 to 398 g (8 to 14 oz.)
Feeds mainly on a variety of invertebrates such as crabs, snails, insects, worms, and mussels. Also occasionally eats fishes, tadpoles, plant matter and possibly mice.
Clutch Size
Averages 6 to 9 eggs
Fledging Duration
Approximately 21 days
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 1 year
Life Span
Approximately 2 to 4 years; light-footed clapper rails at SeaWorld have lived for up to 10 years.
Found along the California coastline from Santa Barbara to the California-Mexico Border and into northern Baja California, Mexico. They are known to occur in the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge and the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge.
The light-footed clapper rail is a rarely seen inhabitant of coastal marshes
Global: No data
Regional: Estimated at fewer than 600 individuals for the regional population of southern California
IUCN: No data
CITES: No data
USFWS: Endangered - added to USFWS Endangered Species List in 1970

Fun Facts

These birds are crepuscular, being more active at dawn and dusk. Mated pairs sing together more often in the evening and slightly less during the morning hours.

Ecology and Conservation

This subspecies was added to the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1970.  The light-footed clapper rail is one of the most endangered birds in California. The light-footed clapper rail is one of the most endangered birds in California. All of their subpopulations have been through recent genetic bottlenecks.

Habitat loss due to development and degradation is the primary factor resulting in population decline. Predation by non-native species such as red foxes, rats, and domestic cats also poses a major threat to populations in some areas. Their predators include red-tailed hawks, northern harriers and peregrine falcons.

SeaWorld San Diego has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Chula Vista Nature Center and a group of independent biologists to develop a light-footed clapper rail captive propagation protocol for a captive breeding and release program. SeaWorld contributes to propagation efforts by incubating and hand-rearing their eggs and chicks.


Terres, J.K. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York. Wings Books. 1991.

Zembal, R. and J.M. Fancher. "Foraging Behavior and Foods of the Light-Footed Clapper Rail". The Condor. 90:959-962. 1988.

NatureServe. 2003. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 1.8. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - ECOS. Downloaded on 31 October 2018.