The species has a large and varied vocal repertoire, although many vocalizations are subtle and rarely heard.
Adult clapper rails have three main vocalizations:
- Clapper: Given by both sexes. Appears to function as greeting, a means of communicating location of a mate, as nest exchange vocalization, during the pre-copulatory period, or in response to loud noises or vocalizations of other pairs.
- Kek-hurrah: May be abbreviated version of clapper vocalization. Given by un-paired birds of either sex, possibly given by unmated males in summer, or may be "subsong" given by maturing juveniles.
- Kek-burr: Primary call of breeding-age female to attract potential mates.
Clapper rails are monogamous, pairing up with a mate during the breeding season (from late May to late July) to raise their young. After forming a breeding pair, males take the lead in nest building. Nests are typically constructed in elevated locations like treetops, or in areas on the ground hidden by dense reeds and grasses.
Clapper rails will defend their nesting territory from perceived threats, including other rails. Females lay clutches of between 2 and 16 eggs that are colored white to light brown. Females typically sit on the eggs during the daytime, while the males take over incubation duties at night.
The eggs hatch about 18-24 days. Both parents care for the young chicks. After about one week, the parents divide the brood, with each parent caring for half of the chicks. Chicks are known to travel on the adults' backs during high tides or as the parent moves along the water. The young become independent from their parents after approximately 6 weeks.
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- Be a responsible cat owner, and keep cats indoors or under restraint when outside. Never release animals that have been kept as pets into the wild.
- Organize or attend a stream, river, lake or other waterway cleanup in your area to preserve aquatic habitats for local species.