Natal plumage characters in rails

The Auk
By:  and 



The downy young of the Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris), King Rail (Rallus elegans), and Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) are described as totally black in all literature examined by us. Wetherbee (Bird-Banding, 32: 141-159, 1961) noted that some neonates of Virginia Rail from Storrs, Connecticut, had patches of white down below the wings. "Neonatal" pertains to the developmental condition or characters at hatching distinct from the much abused term "natal" which in ornithology pertains to the condition or characters from hatching to acquisition of teleoptile plumage. The presence of similar patches of white down was observed by us in the Clapper Rails at Chincoteague, Virginia (Figure 1). An examination of many hundreds of specimens from the ranges of most of the subspecies of Clapper Rails, including the strongly contrasting R. longirostris saturatus from Louisiana, revealed the almost invariable presence of at least 1 and sometimes as many as 30 white neossoptiles in the anterior abdominal regions of the ventral pterylae. Conversely, no King Rail neonate examined by us has shown a white neossoptile.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Natal plumage characters in rails
Series title The Auk
DOI 10.2307/4083128
Volume 82
Issue 3
Year Published 1965
Language English
Publisher American Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 2 p.
First page 500
Last page 501