The literature of the California black rail

Special Scientific Report - Wildlife 179




Few birds have remained so little known as the California black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus). Although first collected in 1859 or before and reported in 1874 (Ridgway 1874), its life history, distribution, and status have remained so obscure that even a sight record of the bird is deemed worthy of a report in some ornithological publications. Because degradation and loss of freshwater and saltwater marshlands in California may be detrimentally affecting the black rail, both the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (1973) and the California Department of Fish and Game (1972) have classified it as rare and worthy of further study. 

The 84 papers and notes both summarized in this report and included in its bibliography include essentially all that is currently known about the California black rail. Only 11 of these papers consider the life history of this rail in any detail. The rest are distribution notes and some of the more important papers on the closely related eastern black rail (L. j. jamaicensis). The latter are included for comparative purposes, or because they may lend clues to currently unknown facets of the life history of the western race.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Federal Government Series
The literature of the California black rail
Series title:
Special Scientific Report - Wildlife
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
17 p.